Myanmar's Min Aung Hlaing (bottom, right) and other leaders attend the ASEAN meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia (Image: EPA/Laily Rachev)

In two appearances last week, secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson laid bare the Australian government’s Janus-faced policies towards our Asian neighbours as well as our general neglect of South-East Asia.

On April 21, Adamson delivered an address to the Asia Society on South-East Asia. Keen to highlight her department’s latest lurch towards our closest neighbours, it laid out a raft of apparently well-funded initiatives, many tied up with the pandemic and its aftermath.

The big problem on everyone’s mind (the steady march of COVID-19 aside) is of course Myanmar. Adamson, who will leave the job this year for the governor’s mansion in Adelaide, rightly described a "security, political and humanitarian crisis".