Parliament should lead ASEAN to demand “constructive intervention” on Burma by adopting an all-party resolution calling for immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and supporters as well as genuine political dialogue by Myanmar military junta on democratization and national reconciliation
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Malaysian Parliament should lead ASEAN to demand “constructive intervention” on Burma by being the first Parliament in ASEAN to adopt an all-party resolution calling for immediate and unconditional release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters as well as genuine tripartite political dialogue by the Myanmese military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) with the National League for Democracy and the ethnic minorities on democratization and national reconciliation in Burma.
The interview given by the Myanmese Foreign Minister Win Aung on CNN this morning that the military junta has “no intention to hold her forever" is completely unsatisfactory and unacceptable – as such a phraseology could mean incarceration from one month to one, two or even five years, especially as Suu Kyi had been in and out of house arrest or detention for the past 14 years since her first detention on July 20, 1989. Incidentally, today is Suu Kyi’s 58th birthday.
Although the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh had made a glacial movement when ASEAN Foreign Ministers called for the release of Suu Kyi, the refusal of the Myanmar military junta to allow the International Committee for the Red Cross to have access to Suu Kyi is further testimony that it is not adequate for the other ASEAN governments to handle the issue of Suu Kyi’s freedom, democratization and national reconciliation in Burma with kid gloves and that more purposive, pro-active and vigorous “constructive intervention” is urgently needed.
There is another precedent the Malaysian Parliament can establish on the issue of Burma – to call on ASEAN governments to be the strongest instead of presently being the weakest link in the United Nations and international system to pressure the Myanmar military junta to open up the country to the fundamental liberties of human rights and democracy, as by setting up a special ASEAN commission to co-ordinate with the United Nations special envoy on Burma to restore democracy and national reconciliation in the country.
Such a concrete ASEAN initiative and commitment on Burma may still salvage the office of the United Nations Special Envoy to Burma which has been condemned to increasing irrelevance and redundancy from the failure of the special UN envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail to make any significant breakthrough to date to promote democratization and national reconciliation in Burma.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman