ASEAN should send a clear message that the rotation of the ASEAN Chair to
Myanmar in 2006 would be aborted if the Myanmese military junta backtracks
from its regional and international commitments on democratisation and
national reconciliation after the new palace coup toppling Khin Nyunt by
Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Wednesday): Malaysia and ASEAN should send a clear message that the rotation of the ASEAN Chair to Myanmar in 2006 would be aborted if the Myanmese military junta backtracks from its regional and international commitments on democratisation and national reconciliation after the new palace coup toppling Khin Nyunt by the hardliners.
When I expressed my concern at the “recent wintry turn of events for democracy in Burma” at the Second International Convention for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma (ICRDB) in New Delhi on 15th to 17th October 2004, I was referring to the disappointing outcome of the 5th ASEM Summit in Hanoi and the upcoming official visit to India next Sunday by Myanmese military junta supreme leader Gen. Than Swee (the first such visit in a quarter of a century) and I had not expected to be so prophetically correct in so quick a time, to be followed with news 24 hours later about the sacking of Khin Nyunt as Prime Minister.
The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is right in expressing concern about the latest developments in Myanmar with regard to the junta’s commitment to the process of democratisation and national reconciliation, and in particular the immediate release of Nobel Peace Laureate and Burmese Opposition Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Malaysia and ASEAN should publicly endorse the UN Secretary-General’s call to the Myanmese military junta to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi, her National League for Democracy (NLD) deputy U Tin Oo and all political prisoners as well as to engage in a meaningful tripartite political dialogue with the pro-democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities.
The palace coup toppling Khin Nyunt has not only cast a dark cloud on all the efforts by the United Nations and the Special Envoy of Kofi Annan, Tan Sri Razali Ismail to move the junta towards democratisation and national reconciliation, it has discredited the seven-year “constructive engagement” policy of ASEAN to make Myanmar a more responsible international player by admitting Myanmar as an ASEAN member.
In July last year, the then Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that Myanmar might be expelled from ASEAN if its military rulers continued defying world pressure to release democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi although he made clear that this would only be considered as a last resort.
With the latest developments in Myanmar, such as the appointment as Prime Minister of Lt. Gen. Soe Win, who is blamed for the Depayin Massacre of May 2003, which targeted Suu Kyi and her followers in northern Myanmar with attacks by a mob of government supporters resulting in Suu Kyi’s re-detention for 17 months, the time has come for ASEAN leaders to seriously weigh Mahathir’s “last resort”.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman