Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Monday called for a "constructive" ASEAN role in dealing with the Myanmar situation and urged all parties there to exercise "utmost restraint from the use of violence," a day after 18 deaths were reported in anti-coup protests.
Hishammuddin's call came as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is set to hold an online special ministerial meeting on Tuesday to discuss the military takeover of the government that has sparked massive street protests in various cities in Myanmar.
"We are deeply concerned over the loss of innocent lives and injuries during the on-going situation in Myanmar," he said in a statement after his visit to Brunei, which currency chair ASEAN.
"It is crucial that ASEAN leads a sincere discussion and constructively engage with Myanmar and all stakeholders to show that ASEAN is effective as a cohesive regional grouping, in addressing the expectations of our external partners and in avoiding unnecessary unilateral responses that may affect the region unfavorably," he added.
The military has justified its takeover by claiming there was widespread fraud in last November's general election in which ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, scored another landslide victory.
Suu Kyi has been placed under house arrest and faces multiple charges that rights groups and the international community deem as frivolous and politically motivated.
"All relevant parties must exercise utmost restraint from the use of violence that could affect the safety of members of the public and further escalate the situation in the country," Hishammuddin said.