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Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Summit and Kuala Lumpur Declaration will be regarded as failures unless tangible breakthrough is achieved on the Myanmar issue
by Lim Kit Siang
Although it is already very late in the day for the Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to be asking for such a time-frame, as Aung Say Suu Kyi has spent more than 10 of the past 16 years in incarceration, it is nonethess a welcome opportunity to test whether the Myanmar military junta is amenable to urgings to comply with legitimate ASEAN aspirations and benchmarks on democracy and good governance.
If after eight years as ASEAN member, the Myanmar military junta is still completely impervious to regional opinion and expectations, then the ASEAN leaders must confront the question whether it serves any purpose for Myanmar to continue as a member of ASEAN.
Syed Hamid has cautioned the international community not to rush into isolating Myanmar as it could backfire and bring more damage to the country and its 54 million people.
Nobody wants to isolate the 54 million people in Myanmar who deserve a break to better their quality of life, but if the best way to promote the well-being of the 54 million people of Myanmar is to isolate the Myanmese military junta, then this problem must be seriously considered by the other nine ASEAN governments.
If the Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Summit proves to be as futile and fruitless as previous ASEAN Summits and ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in securing iron-clad guarantees of forward movement in the democratization and national reconciliation process in Myanmar, then ASEAN governments, parliamentarians and the civil society should seriously consider whether it is in the long term interest of the 54 million people of Myanmar for the Myanmar military junta to be isolated - whether by expulsion or suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN.
The ASEAN Governments cannot continue to be in denial about the Myanmar issue, and all ASEAN leaders must realize that the ASEAN Summit process will be the biggest loser if the Myanmar military junta is allowed once again to avoid accountability on its numerous broken pledges about the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the restoration of tripartite political dialogue, democratization and national reconciliation.
At stake is not just democracy and national reconciliation in Myanmar but the very credibility and legitimacy of ASEAN as an effective regional organization and not just “talk shop”.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman