The United Nations had sent more than 20,000 peacekeeping troops to Cambodia between 1991 and 1993, and spent more than US$2 billion to organize general elections to create a legitimate and democratic society - but all these efforts seem to have gone down the drain.
What is happening in Cambodia is a major setback to the United Nations and ASEAN in their international diplomacy and peace-making efforts.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday on the Cambodian situation should seriously consider deferring the expansion of ASEAN-7 to ASEAN-10 scheduled later this month to another date.
As a result of the political crisis, the Cambodian National Assembly had not been able to meet for more than two months to enact laws to pave the way for the country’s entry into ASEAN, and it is clearly imposible for these laws to be passed in the next two weeks by a National Assembly which is fully representative and legitimate to do so.
As ASEAN governments have taken a decision that the entry of Cambodia, Laos and Burma into the regional organisation should be made together, the expansion of ASEAN-7 to ASEAN-10 scheduled to take place at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in a fortnight’s night should be deferred to another date.
The undemocratic and unconstitutional coup d’etat by Hun Sen making a mockery of the UN and ASEAN-brokered political settlement in Cambodia is not the only reason for deferring the expansion of ASEAN-7 to ASEAN-10.
The refusal of the Burmese military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), to co-operate positively to make a success of the ASEAN "constructive engagement" policy, as evidenced by the continued repressive policies against democratic activists in Burma as well as the rebuff of ASEAN overtures that SLORC should start a political dialogue with Burmese Opposition Leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, are also reasons why it is inopportune and inimical to the international reputation and credibility of ASEAN to admit Burma at this stage.