ASEAN Bali Summit has plunged UN stocks even lower by aiding and abetting Myanmese military junta to rebuff UN efforts to free Aung San Suu Kyi and revive substantive political dialogue in Burma
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): In his farewell address to the United Nations two weeks ago, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said the United Nations was probably at its lowest point since he first delivered his address to the world body in 1982.
He said the United States-led invasion of Iraq represented for the first time countries, sensing that their proposed action would not be approved by the UN, decided to sidestep the world body - a definite instance where the UN was completed ignored.
Two weeks later however, Mahathir had helped to plunge the UN stocks to even lower depths when the 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali ended in a diplomatic triumph for Yangon when it completely rebuffed the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who had only a week earlier called on ASEAN governments to do more to restore democracy.
In an usually blunt report to the UN General Assembly, Annan had specifically called on the UN, ASEAN and the international community at large to join hands to facilitate the democratic transition in Burma, lamenting that the people of Burma had waited too long for change. Annan said: “They voted for change in 1990 and they deserve to experience the same benefits of economic, civil, social and political development as their counterparts in neighbouring countries.”
Calling on the Myanmese military junta to free Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi quickly, Annan said that the three-year-old “home-grown process of national reconciliation, as understood by the United Nations, has come to a complete halt" and unless there is “substantive dialogue, the international community will have to conclude that the home-grown national reconciliation process no longer exists".
In treating the Myanmese Prime Minister, Khin Nyunt with “kid-gloves”, the ASEAN Bali Summit has plunged UN stocks to an even lower point by aiding and abetting Myanmese military junta to rebuff UN efforts to free Aung San Suu Kyi and revive the political dialogue between the military junta, the Burmese Opposition and the ethnic minorities – the objective of Annan’s report and the failed 11th visit to Burma by the UN special envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail the weekend before the Bali summit
Mahathir said in Bali yesterday that he had no regrets in being instrumental in admitting Myanmar to Asean during Malaysia’s chairmanship of the regional grouping in 1997, but what is undoubtedly most regrettable is the failure of Malaysia to bring the greatest pressure to bear on the Myanmese military junta to co-operate with the UN, Asean and the international community to embark on meaningful democratization and national reconciliation, starting with the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi from her third house arrest.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman