Myanmar should be expelled or suspended from ASEAN if no general election is held in Burma by 2006 to avert  the  2006 ASEAN Summit with Myanmar as host becoming a diplomatic disaster

on the Foreign Ministry during the committee stage debate on the Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2004
by Lim Kit Siang

(Dewan Rakyat, Wednesday): Firstly, let me congratulate the MP for Kota Baru Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim for his appointment as Chairman of the Malaysian Parliamentary Pro-Democracy Myanmar  Caucus which represented MPs from both sides of the House and both Houses of Parliament. 

I hope that an ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Caucus on democracy in Myanmar could be formed, for Parliamentarians from all ASEAN countries to come together on a common platform and concern to work for  the restoration of democracy in Burma.


Malaysia has a vested interest to see the restoration of Burmese democracy and national reconciliation, not only for the sake of the long-suffering  people of Burma, but for ourselves and ASEAN as well, as Myanmar had poisoned relations between ASEAN and Europe and the rest of the world for too long.


The Asia-Europe Summit this year to be held in Hanoi in October is likely to be another casualty of this poisoning of relationship between ASEAN and Europe over Myanmar, and the Asia-Europe Summit is largely expected to be postponed because of differences over Myanmar.


In 2006, there may be a greater diplomatic disaster when Myanmar is scheduled to be the host of the ASEAN Summit.


Malaysia and ASEAN should take a strong stand on democracy and national reconciliation in Myanmar, including the expulsion or suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN if no general election is held in Burma by 2006, in order to avoid the diplomatic disaster of having Myanmar to host the 2006  ASEAN Summit.


The present National Convention as the first of the Myanmese military junta’s “seven step roadmap to democracy” started on May 17 is nothing but a farce, as Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest while the convention has been boycotted by the National League for Democracy (NLD). 


The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights, Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, has called the National Convention a “meaningless and undemocratic exercise” and said that the 1,000 hand-picked delegates meeting at a compound outside Yangon were under “mass house arrest”.


Pinheiro has been refused access to Burma a second time in three months, although he is due to present a new report on Burma to the United Nations General Assembly in July.  The special envoy of the Indonesian president, former foreign minister Ali Alatas, was refused permission to visit Burma in mid-April while the special envoy to the UN Secretary-General Tan Sri Razali Ismail was denied return to Burma before the National Convention reconvened.


Delegates to the convention are as good as being kept in a “concentration camp”, who are threatened with  20 years’ jail if they pass information about the proceedings on to people outside the convention and if they criticize the convention or make anti-government comments.


It is no surprise therefore that the convention has been described as “little more than a political show, clumsily designed to give the government a much-needed sheen of respectability”.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman