Asean Ministerial Meeting  in Jakarta should focus on Burma to ensure that there is light at the end of the tunnel within the next 12 months

Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta tomorrow should focus on Burma to ensure that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the  long-standing problem within the next 12 months. 

The abysmal failure of seven years of ASEAN’s “constructive engagement” policy after the entry of   Myanmar military junta into the regional organization must force the other ASEAN leaders to a realistic and painful reappraisal as to whether they are prepared to continue to allow ASEAN to be held hostage by the undemocratic and repressive policies of the Myanmese military junta, poisoning ASEAN’s international relations with the Europe Union (EU)  nations and the United States.


This has been painfully brought home to ASEAN and Asia by the cancellation of two Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Ministerial meetings - the sixth ASEM Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Brussels  on 6th July and the sixth ASEM Economic Ministers’ Meeting in Rotterdam on Sept. 16-17 – as well as the great possibility that the fifth ASEM summit between Asia and Europe scheduled to be held in Hanoi on October 8-9, 2004 might also be aborted  as a  result of the deadlock between the EU and ASEAN countries over the Myanmese military junta’s  refusal to release Burmese Opposition Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi and all political detainees as well as to embark on a meaningful process of democratization and national reconciliation.


Ahead of the looming diplomatic disaster of the 2006 ASEAN Summit hosted by Yangon, the Jakarta meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers must set the tone to  send out the clear and unmistakable message that ASEAN cannot continue to accommodate the Myanmese military junta to the political, economic and diplomatic detriment of ASEAN in international relations. 


The Jakarta meeting must signal the willingness of  ASEAN leaders to seriously consider various options, including the  possibility of expelling or suspending Myanmar from ASEAN,  if the Myanmese military junta continues to be recalcitrant and obdurate in refusing to open wide the door  to democratization and national reconciliation.



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