DAP calls for emergency meeting of the ASEAN foreign ministers to decide whether ASEAN should continue to allow Myanmar to poison its international relationship such as with Europe and the United States or should propose expulsion or suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday): ASEAN and Asia are again confronting another diplomatic disaster because of Myanmar, with the decision by the European Union to cancel two upcoming meetings with Asian countries – the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Brussels next month and the ASEM economy ministers meeting  in Rotterdam in September. 

Down the line, bigger diplomatic disasters loom large – including the ASEM Summit in Hanoi in October, which is likely to be aborted because of the deadlock over Myanmar – and the most serious of all, the ASEAN Summit in 2006, when Myanmar takes over the rotating chair of the regional organization.  This is likely to be the greatest diplomatic crisis in the history of ASEAN, with boycotts by its dialogue partners, the European Union and the United States. 

 The question ASEAN governments and  leaders cannot evade is whether they should allow Myanmar to continue to poison its international relationships, such as with Europe and the United States. 

The continued defiance of the Myanmese military junta and contempt for the most fundamental norms of responsible international behaviour without even  the most minimal respect and regard for human rights has long disqualified Myanmar as a member of ASEAN – and there is no reason why the other nine ASEAN members should carry Myanmar as an albatross, poisoning their political, economic and diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. 

DAP calls for the convening of an emergency meeting of the ASEAN foreign ministers to boldly grapple with this albatross of Myanmar, and to lay down a roadmap for Myanmar to start behaving as a responsible member of ASEAN and international community starting with the immediate release of Burmese Opposition Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and all other political detainees, and a meaningful dialogue of the stakeholders in Burma for democratization and national reconciliation.   

Myanmar must be made to understand that its current on-going National Constitutional Convention is a farce and  lacking all legitimacy.  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”. 

Malaysia must be prepared to take the lead to propose the expulsion or suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN if its military junta is not prepared to commit itself to a meaningful process of democratization and national reconciliation.


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