Tenth ASEAN Summit in Vientiane Nov 29-30 should review the success or failure of  the seven-year ASEAN “constructive engagement” policy with Myanmar and whether ASEAN should consider the unpleasant options of expulsion or suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN

Media Conference Statement
- on the announcement of the ASEAN MPs’ Workshop on Democracy in Myanmar on November 26-28, 2004 organized by the Malaysian Parliamentary Caucus on Pro-Democracy in Myanmar

by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament House, Monday): The latest developments in Myanmar, with the removal of former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt who at least advocated talks with the opposition democratic forces and the Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the victory of the hardliners led by  the military junta’s supreme leader General Than Shwe, has set the clock of democratization and national reconciliation in Burma  backwards  by over a decade. 

Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar yesterday stated the Malaysian government’s stand that Myanmar needs to continue convincing the international community on its seriousness to restore democracy despite the abrupt change in the prime ministership from Gen. Khin Nyunt to Lt-Gen Soe Win.

Hamid said the Myanmar military junta must have an open attitude and  give confidence to the outside world that it would continue to move towards restoring democracy and do the needful towards reconciliation between the feuding parties in the country.   If  Myanmar did not take actions that reflected its seriousness towards restoring democracy and settlement of the internal crisis, the credibility of Asean might be questioned, leading to the erosion of the trust in Asean by the international community.

Hamid is using very diplomatic language to describe a very bad situation in Myanmar.  The time has come for the other ASEAN governments to be frank and forthright to express their concern about the string of broken pledges on democratization and national reconciliation on the part of the Myanmese military junta, in particular the holding of a meaningful tripartite political dialogue involving the military junta, the pro-democracy forces and the ethnic nationalities, (which had not been honoured)  and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi before the reconvening of the National Constitutional Convention on May 17 this year (which had been breached).

The tenth ASEAN Summit in Vientiane Nov 29-30 should review the success or failure of the seven-year ASEAN “constructive engagement” policy with Myanmar and the  seriousness of the  seven-year ASEAN membership of Myanmar with regard to its commitment and progress  towards democratization and national reconciliation, and must be prepared to consider unpleasant options such as the expulsion or suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN if the Myanmese military junta is not prepared to move meaningfully towards democratization and national reconciliation.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman