Jakarta (ANTARA) - Centre for Strategic and International Studies' Head of the International Relations Department, Shafiah Muhibat, disagreed with Prabowo's statement that the ASEAN disrespects Indonesia, terming it an unfair assessment.

Presidential candidate number 02 Prabowo Subianto expressed his views during the fourth round of the presidential debate held Saturday, Mar 30, in response to his opponent Incumbent President Joko Widodo's question pertaining to the issue of Rakhine State in Myanmar.

"The debate barely focused on the ASEAN, and they merely drew mention to Rakhine State. In the context of Myanmar, Indonesia, as an ASEAN member, is bogged down by limitations," Muhibat revealed.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Indonesia, face limitations in the form of having to respect the bloc's doctrine of non-interference in line with the principle of non-intervention in other nation's affairs.

However, he believes Indonesia had taken several initiatives to resolve the crisis in Rakhine State, in the form of offering humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees.

Indonesia had collaborated with other bloc members to form the ASEAN Coordinating Centre For Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) to facilitate the repatriation of Rohingya refugees from the Cox's Bazar border, Bangladesh, to Rakhine State.

Muhibat also refuted the statement of Indonesia not bearing strong diplomatic ability in the ASEAN.

"I think it is unfair to our diplomats if we make the assumption of Indonesia not having a strong standing in the ASEAN merely since we have yet to set an agenda in case of several issues. For instance, we have been able to take the lead in taking initiatives for tackling several issues, specifically in fighting IUU Fishing and preventing terrorism," he pointed out.

Prabowo had earlier noted that Indonesia, as a nation, was reeling in debt, and its currency was weak.

However, he did admit to the fact that Indonesia played a decisive role in conducting diplomacy by acting as a mediator in resolving international conflict.

He opined that Indonesia would be in a stronger position at the international level if were to be backed by military power coupled with the government's ability to boost public welfare. Related news: Jokowi, Prabowo to face off one last time on April 13

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Translator: Azizah Fitriyanti, Safira Hali
Editor: Bambang Purwanto
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