Mahathir should take a tough line to demand immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters when Myanmar junta leader Than Shwe’s special envoy meets him next week
by Lim Kit Siang
(Kota Kinabalu, Friday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should take a tough line to demand immediate and unconditional release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters when Myanmar junta leader Than Shwe’s special envoy meets him next week.
Than Shwe has sent his top aide, Khin Maung Win, who is also Myanmar’s Deputy Foreign Minister on a diplomatic offensive in ASEAN and Asia to appeal for understanding and woo support for the military junta’s relapse into greater intolerance, intransigence and defiance of regional and international opinion for democratization and national reconciliation in Burma, which must be denied emphatically and unequivocally by all ASEAN and Asian governments.
Khin Myaung Win had been sent by Than Shwe to Thailand specifically to discuss with the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to discuss Suu Kyi’s re-detention and will next visit Japan carrying a message from the junta leader before coming to Malaysia to meet Mahathir early next week.
Khin Myaung Win’s itinerary indicates the importance the Myanmar military junta places on Malaysia as belonging to the trinity of the three most important states to save it from total international isolation for one of the most repressive regimes in modern times and the strongest reason why Malaysia must stop being seen nationally, regionally and internationally as aiding and abetting the decades-long gross violation of human rights and the trampling of the hopes of the Burmese people for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.
When Khin Myaung Win visits Mahathir next week, he must be told in no uncertain terms that the time is up for the Myanmar military junta to keep faith with its international commitment to enter into a serious tripartite political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and the ethnic nationalities under the auspieces of the United Nations special envoy on Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail and that Malaysia is not prepared to continue to play the role of international apologist, defender and counsel for the junta.
In fact, Mahathir should spell out bluntly to Than Shwe’s special envoy that Malaysia will withdraw all support for the Myanmar military junta unless Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters are immediately and unconditionally released and a time-table as well as a road-map for democratization and national reconciliation are agreed and adhered to, with ASEAN drawing up a mechanism to periodically monitor and review the progress of the process.
From being the weakest link in the United Nations system to pressure and influence the Myanmese military junta to live up to its international commitments on democratization and national reconciliation in Burma, Malaysia and ASEAN should step forward to become pro-active and leading players in the international community to warn Myanmar’s State Peace and Development Council of the awful consequences of continued contempt for regional and international opinion to respect the most elementary principles of human rights and democracy.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman