ASEAN leaders should send strong message to Myanmar military junta that placing Aung San Suu Kyi a third time under house arrest after 120-day re-detention is too puny a step and completely unacceptable and will not win it a seat at the ASEAN Bali Summit
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): ASEAN leaders should send a strong message to the Myanmar military junta that placing Burmese Opposition Leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi a third time under house arrest after a 120-day re-detention is too puny a step and completely unacceptable and will not win it a seat at the ASEAN Bali Summit next month.
It is clear that Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who had specially sent a special envoy, former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, to intercede with Yangon to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi, has become the latest ASEAN leader to be rebuffed by the Myanmese military junta.
Malaysia suffered a rebuff after the warning by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in July that the Myanmese military junta’s continued intransigence could lead to its expulsion from ASEAN fell on deaf ears. The Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar was rudely ignored when he tried to get permission to visit Burma and meet with Aung San Suu Kyi – in utter contempt for Malaysia’s efforts in being chiefly instrumental to get Myanmar admitted into ASEAN in 1997 despite widespread regional and international criticism and opposition.
The latest visit by an ASEAN leader to Yangon, the Thai Foreign Minister, Surakiart Sathirathai whose trip was a day after the departure of Ali Alatas, also produced nothing but another meaningless “optimism” about the so-called seven-point “roadmap for democracy”, eliciting nothing concrete whether on Aung San Suu Kyi’s unconditional release or clear time-frames for the “roadmap”.
Since Myanmar has been rebuffing all well-intended ASEAN overtures and initiatives to bring it back to the mainstream of civilized international relations, it is time that ASEAN stop treating the Myanmese military junta with kid-gloves.
In view of Myanmar’s intransigence, Megawarti should take the initiative, which should be fully supported by Malaysia and the other ASEAN countries, to exclude Myanmar from the ASEAN Bali Summit on Oct. 7-8 unless Aung San Suu Kyi is released unconditionally, together with other political prisoners in Burma.
Furthermore, the ASEAN Bali Summit should withhold support or enoorsement for the “roadmap for democracy in Burma”, as it must be the product of the tripartite dialogue and consensus between the military regime, the opposition National League for Democracy of Aung San Suu Kyi and the ethnic minorities and not the unilateral declaration of the Myanmese military junta, which would be a mere stalling tactic to reduce regional and international pressure for democratization in Burma.
Finally, the democratization and national reconciliation in Burma should be top of the agenda of the ASEAN Bali Summit next month.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman