Malaysian and other ASEAN governments should not buckle under the intransigence of the Myanmese military junta and lose out in the test of wills but should demand unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi by end of the month or it should be excluded from the ASEAN Summit in Bali on Oct 7-8
- on the DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations/Defend Secular Malaysia campaign at Rifle Range Flats
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Friday): The response by the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to the DAP proposal that Myanmar should be excluded from the 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia on Oct. 7 -8, 2003 unless the Burmese Opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other Burmese political prisoners are released by the end of the month is a great letdown.
He said Myanmar should not be barred from attending the forthcoming 9th Asean Summit in Bali, Indonesia as Myanmar should not be marginalised from Asean despite the "hiccups and problems" it faced with the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi on May 30.
It would appear that Syed Hamid has backed down from the strong resolve he and other ASEAN leaders had demonstrated in June and July in pressurizing the Myanmese military junta to comply with responsible norms of international conduct to release Aung San Suu Kyi or face ASEAN and international censure.
DAP calls on the Malaysian and other ASEAN governments not to buckle under the intransigence of the Myanmese military junta and lose out in the test of wills but should demand unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi by end of the month or it should be excluded from the ASEAN Summit in Bali on Oct 7-8, 2003.
In June, Myanmese junta spokesmen like its Foreign Minister, Win Aung had given very clear indications that Aung San Suu Kyi’s re-detention on May 30 was “temporary” and for her “protective custody”, even encouraging the United Nations Secretary-General’s special representative, Tan Sri Razali Ismail to express his optimism in the second week of June after being the first visitor to Aung San Suu Kyi about her imminent release and those of other National League for Democracy members within two weeks.
The two weeks have now dragged out to two months, with Aung San Suu Kyi having been jailed for more than 100 days, testimony of the fork-tongue and untrustworthiness of the solemn word and pledges of the Myanmese military junta.
In June, Hamid justified the more interventionist position of Malaysia and ASEAN on Aung San Suu Kyi’s re-detention, Burmese democratization and national reconciliation on two basic grounds:
Why is Hamid now backing down from his strong stand in June and July on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, which seemed to have also afflicted other ASEAN governments and even the Razali, the special representative of Kofi Annan.
ASEAN should learn a lesson from the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Pnomh Penh in June which was completely overshadowed by the Aung San Suu Kyi issue and by efforts to secure the unconditional release of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The only way to save the Bali Summit from another Myanmese disaster as well as to salvage ASEAN’s international credibility is to secure Aung San Suu Kyi’s unconditional release so that the issue would not also dominate the ASEAN Summit in Bali next month.
In fact, there should be a movement by MPs from Malaysia and other ASEAN countries concerned about human rights and democracy in Burma to sign and send an urgent memorandum to all the ASEAN governments to give a mandate for strong actions, including exclusion of Myanmar from the ASEAN Summit in Bali, unless Aung San Suu Kyi is released by the end of the month.
ASEAN governments, Parliaments and public opinion must be unanimous and unswerving in their rejection of the seven-point road-map to democracy in Burma announced by the new Myanmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt on August 30, as Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate release must be the pre-condition for any chance of success for the restoration of democracy in Burma. Without Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate and unconditional release, it is academic and pointless for the Myanmese military junta to talk about a seven-point road map to restore democracy in Burma.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman