The fact-finding mission of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus to Myanmar in March an acid test of suitability of Myanmar to take over the ASEAN Chair in 2006
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Friday): The Jakarta meeting of ASEAN Parliamentarians on Feb. 1 -2, 2005 had two agenda:
On the initiative of Nursyahbani Katjasungkana (MP - National Awakening Party), who is the Vice Chairperson of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, the Indonesian Parliamentary Caucus on Democracy in Myanmar was launched, which will be followed by the formation of similar parliamentary caucuses in Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines in the next two months.
The first working meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, which was attended by parliamentarians from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia decided to send a fact-finding mission to Burma next month.
The Chairman of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, will write to the Myanmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win informing him of the fact-finding mission by ASEAN Parliamentarians in line with the caucus concern for democratization and national reconciliation in Myanmar through meaningful tripartite political dialogue among the military junta, the pro-democracy activists and ethnic nationalities.
ASEAN parliamentarians in the fact-finding visit to Burma will seek to meet the head of the military junta, Senior-General Than Shwe, Foreign Minister Nyan Win, Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and leaders of the National League for Democracy and the ethnic nationalities.
The fact-finding mission of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus to Myanmar in March will be an acid test of the suitability of Myanmar to take over the ASEAN Chair in 2006.
If ASEAN Parliamentarians are not allowed to visit Myanmar, it will be a double mockery to ASEAN, in particular , viz:
For 15 years since the 1990 General Election in Burma and eight years since the admission of Myanmar into ASEAN in 1997, there is not only no progress in democratization and national reconciliation in Burma, but the reverse. Aung San Suu Kyi, for instance, is under continued detention for another year and the National Constitutional Convention totally lacks legitimacy.
The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus is agreed that unless there is improvement in the political situation in Burma with meaningful democratization and tangible national reconciliation, Myanmar is not qualified to be chairman of ASEAN in 2006.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman