ASEAN runs the risk of being regarded as a “rogue organization” if it allows a rogue nation like Myanmar to take over ASEAN Chair in 2006

Speech (2)
on the Foreign Ministry in the second supplementary estimates 2004
by Lim Kit Siang

(Dewan Rakyat, Monday): ASEAN should learn from the Bandung 50th Anniversary Asian-African Summit in Jakarta last weekend, which was completely overshadowed by the China-Japan crisis arising from the revisionist Japanese history textbooks “white-washing” Japanese war crimes and atrocities and ensure that the Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Summit and the  East Asia Summit at the end of the year would not be completely overshadowed by the issue of Myanmar taking over the ASEAN   Chair  in 2006.

All the other ASEAN nations should be fully conscious that ASEAN runs the risk of being regarded as a “rogue organization” if it allows a rogue nation like Myanmar to take over the ASEAN Chair in 2006, with grave and far-reaching implications for ASEAN collectively and the member nations individually.

Last week,  the United Nations Commission on Human Rights named Myanmar as one of the four “rogue” nations for its  blatant violation of human rights, expressing grave concern in a 12-point indictment, viz:

(a) The ongoing systematic violation of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, of the people of Myanmar, in particular discrimination and violations suffered by persons belonging to ethnic minorities, women and children, especially in non-ceasefire areas;


(b) The fact that the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Myanmar  (Paulo S. Pinheiro) as well as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Myanmar (Tan Sri Razali Ismail) have been unable to visit the country for more than a year, despite repeated requests;


(c) The ongoing systematic and consistent harassment of members of the National League for Democracy and other opposition activists, in particular the events of May 2003, and the fact that no full and independent inquiry has been initiated despite repeated requests;


(d) The extension of the house arrest of National League for Democracy General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi and her deputy, Tin Oo, for another

year and the persistent denial of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of movement and association, as well as the continued detention of other senior leaders of the National League for Democracy and of the leadership of other political parties or ethnic minorities, particularly the recent detention of Khun Htun Oo and Sao Nyunt Lwin, Chairman and General Secretary respectively of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, and Sao Hso Ten, Chairman of the Shan State Peace Council;


(e) The continuing restrictions placed on the National League for Democracy and other political parties which prevented them from participating in the recently reconvened National Convention


(f) Extrajudicial killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence persistently carried out by members of the armed forces, continuing use of torture, renewed instances of political arrests and continuing imprisonment and other detentions, including of prisoners whose sentences have expired; prisoners held incommunicado while awaiting trial; forced relocation; destruction of livelihoods and confiscations of land by the armed forces; forced labour, including child labor; trafficking in persons; denial of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement; discrimination and persecution on the basis of religious or ethnic background; wide disrespect for the rule of law and lack of independence of the judiciary; unsatisfactory conditions of detention; systematic use of child soldiers; and violations of the rights to education and to an adequate standard of living, including food and medical care;


(g) The situation of the large number of internally displaced persons and the flow of refugees to neighboring countries, and recalls in this context the obligations of Myanmar under international law;


(h) The renewed attacks by military forces on ceasefire groups, in violation of ceasefire agreements, and the subsequent and continuing violations of human rights, in particular the deterioration of the enjoyment of human rights by the affected populations;


(i) The fact that the Government of Myanmar has not yet undertaken all the relevant measures to allow the Joint Government of the Union of Myanmar-International Labor Organization Plan of Action for the Elimination of Forced Labor Practices in Myanmar to come into force, and that the senior military leadership failed to meet the International Labor Organization very High-Level Team during their visit from 21 to 23 February 2005, despite its mandate to evaluate the attitude of the Myanmar authorities at the highest level towards forced labor.

Malaysia, whether the government or Parliament, should speak loud and clear that Myanmar should not be allowed to assume the ASEAN Chair 2006 unless the Myanmar military junta is prepared to undertake meaningful democratization and national reconciliation measures, including the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners.


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