ASEAN Foreign Ministers were right to reject the warning by Hun Sen "not to interfere in Camboda’s internal affairs" because no country could be allowed to violate with impunity international commitments to respect the fundamental rights of its people to democratic freedoms and human rights.
This was why Malaysia won international admiration when in the sixties the government took a clear-cut stand to condemn and boycott the apartheid policies of South Africa, rejecting the argument of the then Pretoria government that Malaysia had no business to interfere in the domestic affairs of South Africa.
ASEAN’s position on Burma is inconsistent with Malaysia’s stand in opposing South Africa’s apartheid policies and support of international sanctions which contributed to the eventual release of Nelson Mandela and his election as South African President as well as the latest ASEAN decision on Cambodia’s membership in ASEAN.
ASEAN leaders have won international plaudits for its stand in deferring Cambodia’s membership, but the ASEAN inconsistency in insisting to go ahead to admit Burma despite the repressive policies of the Burmese military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), would undo the gains in international prestige and credibility won by ASEAN on the Cambodian question.
It for this reason that I call on the ASEAN governments to extend its Cambodian position to SLORC and defer Burma’s entry as a full member of ASEAN until there are measurable progress in democratic reforms and national reconciliation, including the breaking of the constitutional stalemate in Burma created by the refusal of the military junta to respond to ASEAN’s proposal that it should initiate a political dialogue with the National League for Democracy and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.