The June ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh on June 16-17 should have the important agenda the kickstart of the stalled political dialogue and national reconciliation in Myanmar between the army junta and Aung San Suu Kyi
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): A year ago, when welcoming the release of Burmese Opposition Leader and Nobel
Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi from 19-month house arrest, DAP had expressed the hope that the Myanmese military junta would keep its commitment to mark "a new page for the people of Myanmar and the international community" by setting out a clear road map and reasonable time-table for the restoration of democracy and the goal of national reconciliation to end the country's international isolation.
DAP also urged ASEAN governments and leaders to give positive contribution to ensure that Suu Kyi's release augured a steady and irreversible return to democracy without any relapse to unadulterated military rule in the ensuing months and years.
A year after her release, Suu Kyi remains shackled with no political dialogue or any effort at reconciliation by the military junta.
The United Nations estimates 1,100-1,200 political prisoners still languish in Myanmar’s colonial era gaols and says that the junta is only releasing people it regards as posing a minimal threat to the regime.
Myanmar’s economy is in tatters and its human rights record is one of the worst in the world. The New York-based Human Rights Watch recently charged that Myanmar had the highest number of child soldiers – as many as 70,000 – in the world, the majority of the children “forcibly conscripted”. The Myanmese army has been accused by two minority-rights groups of raping 625 women and girls between 1996 and 2001 in the country’s eastern state of Shan.
ASEAN and Malaysia have failed the regional and international commitment in the past year to exercise influence on the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to promote democratization and national reconciliation.
United Nations envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail has not been allowed by the Myanmese military junta to return to Yangon in the past six months, making it impossible for him to discharge his responsibility and mandate as UN envoy to facilitate discussions between the junta and the democratic opposition led by Suu Kyi.
The June ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh on June 16-17 should have as an important item of its agenda the kickstart of the stalled political dialogue and national reconciliation in Myanmar between the army junta and Suu Kyi
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman