Malaysian Parliamentary Caucus on Myanmar to meet in coming week to strategise the next course of action in the campaign to deny the ASEAN Chair 2006 to Myanmar unless there is acceptable meaningful progress in democratization and national reconciliation
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Sunday): The Malaysian Parliamentary Caucus on Myanmar will meet in Parliament in the coming week to strategise the next course of action in the campaign to deny the ASEAN Chair 2006 to Myanmar unless there is acceptable meaningful progress in democratization and national reconciliation including the unconditional release of Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners in Myanmar.
Because of mounting pressure from ASEAN Parliamentarians and the civil societies, hostile international opinion as well as the increasing discomfort of the other ASEAN governments at the prospect of global disapprobation and isolation if ASEAN Chair 2006 is handed over to Yangon, the Myanmar military junta has been sending out mixed signals since the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Cebu in early April.
The latest pressure has come from the European Parliament, which on Thursday made clear its intention to call for a boycott of ASEAN in the event of Burma assuming the ASEAN Chair in 2006
This has led the Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon to again say that the Myanmar military junta had indicated to Thailand and other countries that it had ASEAN’s interest at heart, which it would put before its own, with Myanmar deciding to postpone taking over the ASEAN Chair 2006. Myanmar is expected to make such an announcement at the 38th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane.
It is not clear whether this is just a smokescreen by the Myanmar military junta to buy time and fob off the mounting regional and international pressures against its takeover of the ASEAN Chair 2006, but even if Myanmar announces at the 38th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane, Laos from July 24 to July 29 its decision to postpone taking over the ASEAN Chair 2006, the fundamental questions about it being a “rogue” state with its egregious human rights record whether forced labour, torture, political persecution, the enrolment of child soldiers and “ethnic cleansing” as well as the breach of its longstanding promise when it joined ASEAN in 1997 to embark on democratization and national reconciliation remain outstanding issues.
ASEAN Parliamentarians committed to the cause of democratization in Burma needs to re-strategise their next course of action, as the time may have come to internationalise the ASEAN parliamentary campaign by initiating a dialogue with like-minded parliamentarians and legislators in the European Union, China, India, South Korea, Japan and North America.
The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), which will meet in Singapore on June 2 in conjunction with the launching of the Singapore Parliamentary Caucus on Myanmar, should seriously consider the proposal to internationalise the ASEAN campaign.
* Lim Kit Siang,
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman