The Rohingya issue could become a humanitarian crisis unprecedented in South-east Asian history and cause areas straddling Myanmar and Bangladesh to turn into hotbeds of terrorism. The images from the border of the two countries are heart-rending.
If not dealt with, insurgents representing the Rohingya could be encouraged to seek help from Muslim countries not only in the neighbourhood, but also the Middle East. South-east Asia can ill afford more unrest in its midst.
It all stems from racism and the inability to speak out against it. This works against a country trying to turn away from its years of isolation and pain (UN accuses Myanmar of ‘textbook ethnic cleansing’; Sept 12).
From being on the threshold of a new dawn, Myanmar could be pushed back into facing its past, just when there was progress and investors coming in to restore everything from its infrastructure to its educational system.
That could take a back seat if this issue is fuelled further. Resources could be diverted from building up an economy and uplifting a people to dealing with hostilities brought about by differences from within.
What is required is for a respected figure or body, preferably inside the country, to take charge so as not to allow the situation to go from bad to worse by leaving the door open to extremist elements becoming involved.