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ASEAN Leaders Summit must  make clear to Myanmar to face expulsion or suspension as expression of impatience by ASEAN Foreign Ministers at  Myanmar’s intransigence, though welcome, is grossly inadequate



Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

, Saturday): Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar made an unusually undiplomatic statement yesterday about ASEAN’s impatience at  developments in Myanmar which accompanied his call  on the military junta to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and work towards democratic reform.


The situation in Myanmar, where Aung San Suu Kyi has been incarcerated more than 10 of the last 16 years, with over 1,000 political prisoners, is no more amenable to just expressions of frustrations over Myanmar being a “cause of embarrassment to ASEAN”.


ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in Kuala Lumpur  beginning on Monday  must  make clear to Myanmar to face expulsion or suspension from ASEAN  as expression of impatience by ASEAN Foreign Ministers about Myanmar’s intransigence, though welcome, is grossly inadequate.


Nevertheless, Syed Hamid’s statement yesterday on the Burma issue is to be commended, bearing in mind the earlier statement that  Myanmar is not on the agenda of the ASEAN Summit.


Regardless of whether Myanmar is on the official agenda or not, ASEAN Summit Leaders cannot continue to be in a state of denial, pretending that the Burma issue is not haunting the Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Summit as it had haunted all previous ASEAN Summits and ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meetings in the past eight years.


Whether using diplomatic or undiplomatic language, ASEAN Leaders must make their Myanmese counterpart understand in no uncertain terms that ASEAN would have no choice to expel or suspend Myanmar from the regional organization to  protect its credibility and legitimacy, if no meaningful and tangible progress in democratization and national reconciliation are registered by next year.


ASEAN Leaders must hold the Myanmar military junta to its undertaking as a term of accession to ASEAN in 1997 to show results  on  its pledges on democratization and national reconciliation. The ASEAN Summit should commission an independent  report  to evaluate  the success or failure of  the ASEAN “constructive engagement policy” particularly with specific reference to the democratization and national reconciliation process in Myanmar for the past eight years.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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