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ASEAN Charter – why sign it in ASEAN Summit in Singapore next month if it is to be discredited instantly by Myanmar military junta, making ASEAN an international laughing stock?

Media Statement (2)         
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Thursday): United Nations special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari has asked ASEAN nations to turn rhetoric into real action.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday after a two-day visit to Malaysia, which had included “substantive discussions” with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Gambari said: “We appreciate the strong statement coming out of ASEAN but now is the time to work together for concrete results.”

The next one month must see concrete results from both Gambari and the ASEAN Summit in Singapore to get the political dialogue for national reconciliation and democratization in Burma off the ground or ASEAN and UN would again be led up by the garden path by Myanmese military junta to aid and abet the repressive and corrupt military rule in the narco-state.

Although Gambari said that the United Nations will not compel ASEAN to suspend Myanmar as a member but instead encourage it to remain engaged with the junta government to restore the democratic process and respect for human rights in the country, the suspension and expulsion of Myanmar from the regional organization must remain an option of the ASEAN governments and peoples if the Myanmese military junta remain totally impervious after two decades to calls for a tripartite dialogue among the generals, pro-democracy activists led by Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic nationalities to start the process of national reconciliation and democratization.

The claim by the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar that there is no mechanism for the suspension of Myanmar in ASEAN is not persuasive or convincing enough to justify the junta’s continued membership in ASEAN when it persists with its unrepentant and intransigent suppression of fundamental human rights which has brought ASEAN into international odium and disrepute.

For instance, what is the purpose of the signing of the ASEAN Charter at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore next month if the Myanmese military junta is at liberty to defy national and international opinion, enjoying full impunity to continue its egregious violation of human rights – turning the ASEAN Charter instantly into a discredited document and ASEAN the laughing stock of the world?


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

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