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Call to ASEAN MPs to  launch campaign for Myanmar�s suspension from ASEAN if no meaningful progress in democratization and national reconciliation, including release of Aung San Suu Kyi,  achieved in next three months


Media Statement (1)

by Lim Kit Siang  

, Friday) : The ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Bali in the past two days had been a total failure. Never before had such high hopes been vested in an ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat and never again is it likely to become such an utter flop.

Before the Bali Retreat, several ASEAN Foreign Ministers had been quite frank and outspoken about the ASEAN crisis posed by Myanmar�s intransigent policies.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said ASEAN must be firm with Myanmar whose military junta is  holding ASEAN hostage hampering progress and bringing the region into disrepute.

But this was  what the ASEAN Foreign Ministers had allowed the Myanmar military junta to do in Bali, not only overshadowing all other topics at the Retreat, but binding the ASEAN hostage tighter it its embrace in exposing the impotence of regional organization.

When Syed Hamid conceded yesterday that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers had decided  to �throw in the towel� as there is nothing more they could do, and �their only hope now is that Myanmar�s military junta will come to their senses�, it marked the lowest point  of ASEAN credibility in its 39-year history. (The Star)

This is because the Myanmar military junta had been  rewarded instead of reprimanded  for its  intransigence and contempt for the Kuala Lumpur  ASEAN Summit decision last December when it showed so little respect to the  special ASEAN envoy despatched  to Myanmar.  Syed Hamid, the special ASEAN Summit envoy,  was  denied a meeting with top junta leader  Senior General Than Shwe and Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and  had even to cut short his visit by one day, after his trip was repeatedly put off by the military junta.

The concerns and disappointments expressed before the Bali Retreat by  ASEAN leaders including its Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong,  Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Sirayuda, Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo, Philippine Foreign Minister Alberto Romula, at the lack of movement in Myanmar towards democratization and national reconciliation had come to nought and in fact counted for nothing.

The acquiescene of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to the repeated violation of the pledges by the Myanmar military junta on  democratization and national reconciliation, including the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, is a most adverse reflection on them  and a blot for  ASEAN.

It is most shocking that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers could timidly accept the latest outrage of the Myanmar military junta � its continued stone-walling of democratization and national reconciliation with its latest time-table of requiring another two years before the first of its  ï¿½Seven-step Roadmap to Democracy� could be completed.

The �Seven-step Roadmap� includes reconvening of the National Convention to draft a new constitution, adoption of the constitution by
referendum, holding of free and fair election, convening of Hluttaws (Parliament), the election of state leaders and formation of government and
other central organs that would lead the nation in the future.

The military junta had been writing a new Constitution for the country for the past 13 years when a national convention was first convened in 1993.  At this pace of progress, it may take another eight years before the new constitution is drafted � as at present, nine chapters of the constitution had been completed with six more left.

ASEAN foreign ministers, leaders and governments must  make it clear to the Myanmar military junta that such unco-operative attitude and  intransigence is completely unacceptable and antithetical to the  ASEAN community spirit.

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) in its meeting in Bangkok last September had resolved to launch a campaign seeking the suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN if there is no material progress in democratization and national reconciliation in  the next 12 months.

This 12-month period is coming up, and I call on ASEAN MPs, regardless of nation, political ideology or gender to unite for the first time in ASEAN history  to  launch a campaign for Myanmar�s suspension from ASEAN if no meaningful progress in democratization and national reconciliation, including release of Aung San Suu Kyi,  is achieved in the next three months.

The 39th ASEAN Foreign Ministers� Meeting in Kuala Lumpur on July 26-28, 2006 would be the most appropriate  occasion for the launch of  the AIPMC initiative among ASEAN Parliamentarians for the suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN in to restore international credibility to ASEAN and ASEAN MPs .


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

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