Asean leaders on Monday insisted that the five-point consensus plan forged in April to de-escalate Myanmar ’s post-coup violence needed to be implemented without delay, with Indonesia saying it would appreciate China’s help to “follow up” on the matter. The remarks by the top diplomats of Indonesia and Singapore came on the sidelines of a meeting in Chongqing between Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers and their Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and as hundreds of civil society groups jointly criticised the bloc for its inertia in dealing with Myanmar’s crisis. Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Asean was “disappointed” with the “very, very slow progress” in the implementation of the five-point blueprint agreed to on April 24. “Unfortunately, we know that there are still civilians who have been hurt or killed. There has been no release of political detainees, there has been no real sign of meaningful political dialogue and negotiation. So we’ll have to watch this space,” Balakrishnan was quoted as saying by national broadcaster CNA. He was speaking to Singapore media following Monday’s talks. China pushes for closer ties in Asean talks, with focus on pandemic Balakrishnan said Asean had no intention of interfering in Myanmar’s internal affairs as “in the end, only the people themselves within Myanmar can determine its future”. “But Asean stands ready to help, to be supportive, to facilitate mediation if possible, but we will have to wait. It’s disappointing but let’s not give up hope,” he said. Malaysia’s foreign minister tweeted on Monday that the international community is awaiting action from Asean. “The 5-Point Consensus is an important breakthrough, and a means for Asean to engage and assist Myanmar towards a return to normalcy. However, we must admit that developments on the consensus is painfully slow,” said Hishammuddin Hussein, who was absent from the meeting as he was self-isolating after being identified as a close contact of a Covid-19 patient. In separate comments, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she raised the crisis during talks with Wang Yi, saying “China’s support to Asean to follow up on the five points of consensus will be highly appreciated”. There was no immediate comment from the Chinese foreign ministry. A post on the official Facebook page of Beijing’s embassy in Myanmar said Ambassador Chen Hai met Myanmar’s junta chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, on Saturday. “The Myanmar side is willing to work together with Asean to safeguard the domestic stability of Myanmar and implement the relevant consensus. Myanmar sees China as an important neighbour and is willing to maintain communications with China,” the embassy said. It referred to the senior general as the “leader of Myanmar”. Neither Asean nor individual governments have thus far formally accepted Min Aung Hlaing as the legitimate head of Myanmar’s government. Marsudi said Asean foreign ministers also received a briefing from Asean secretary general Lim Jock Hoi and Erywan Yusof, the second foreign minister of Brunei, which is the 10-nation bloc’s chair this year. Both officials visited Myanmar over the weekend for informal talks with Min Aung Hlaing. That meeting was the first physical meeting between the senior general and Asean officials since the bloc agreed to the five-point consensus plan in April’s special meeting in Jakarta. The plan includes ending violence, constructive talks among “all parties concerned”, the sending of aid to Myanmar, the appointment of a special envoy to facilitate talks, and for the envoy to be allowed visits to the country. Min Aung Hlaing, whose military has continued its crackdown on non-violent anti-coup protesters, has since then prevaricated on whether he will implement the blueprint. ‘Time is ticking’: UN envoy urges Asean to act fast on Myanmar Marsudi in her remarks reiterated the importance of appointing the special envoy, saying that person must be able to “communicate with all parties” as agreed at the April 24 meeting. Leaders of the deposed National League for Democracy such as the party’s top leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint remain in military custody, and the junta has given no indication that it will sit down for talks with them. Instead, Min Aung Hlaing has insisted that his February 1 coup was justified owing to discrepancies in elections last won decisively by the NLD. Independent election monitors have said they did not witness the kind of voter fraud the junta insists took place. CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS CRITICISE ASEAN Separately on Monday, 419 civil society groups from across Southeast Asia condemned Asean for its “continuous engagement” with the junta and its failure to formally engage with the National Unity Government – a parallel administration formed by anti-junta figures, some of whom are in exile. The junta has classified the NUG as a “terrorist group”. The joint statement took particular issue with the weekend visit to Myanmar by Lim Jock Hoi and Erywan Yusof. It said the trip “has been mired in a lack of transparency for the absence of engagement with all parties”, contrary to the five-point consensus. “Instead of steering the junta towards ending the violence in the country, Asean has created an opportunity for the junta’s own propaganda, emboldening their facade of authority,” it said. The Myanmar rights monitor Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says 857 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, with 4,677 others arrested, charged or sentenced for various offences.