DAP calls for
the suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN as the refusal of the Myanmese military
junta to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi, rendering the National
Constitutional Convention on Monday totally illegitimate, is the “last
straw that breaks the camel’s back”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): DAP calls for the suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN as the refusal of the Myanmese military junta to immediately release Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi, rendering the National Constitutional Convention scheduled on Monday totally illegitimate, is the “last straw that breaks the camel’s back”.
The Myanamese military junta’s intransigence and defiance of regional and international opinion for democratization and national reconciliation in Burma mark the abject failure of the seven-year ASEAN “constructive engagement” with Myanmar by admitting it into the regional organization in 1997.
Malaysia must now play a leading role to call for an emergency meeting of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting to formally propose the suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN as Malaysia was chiefly instrumental in securing Myanmar’s admission into ASEAN at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur in 1997 – going against regional and international opinion as well as the better judgment of a few of the original ASEAN members.
In the past seven years, the Myanmese military junta had never been serious about its ASEAN and international responsibilities and commitments. In the past year, for instance, it had been playing games with ASEAN leaders, rebuffing one after another who had urged on Yangon to be more conciliatory and responsive, and even the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, was put through the farce of a dozen fruitless and futile visits to Burma to secure the release of a repeatedly-detained Aung San Suu Kyi and to kickstart a political dialogue on democratization and national reconciliation between the military junta and the pro-democracy forces and the ethnic nationalities.
During this whole period, the obstinate, wily and irresponsible Myanmese military junta was engaged in the political and diplomatic fox-trot of “one-step forward , two-steps backward” to fool ASEAN and the world, the latest gambit being the meaningless “roadmap for democracy” with neither release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other leading Burmese democracy activists nor clear time-frames for the roadmap.
The farce of the illegitimacy of the Myanmese National Constitutional Convention on Monday, with the announcement yesterday of boycott by the National League for Democracy (NLD) because of the junta’s refusal to free Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD vice chairman Tin Oo, is also a farce for ASEAN.
As the Malaysian Parliament is meeting next week, DAP proposes the establishment of a Parliamentary caucus on democracy in Myanmar, where MPs regardless of political affiliation can come together on the common cause and concern about the future of Burma to firstly, chart a common programme to promote democracy in Burma; and secondly, to liaise with like-minded MPs from other ASEAN Parliaments to provide a strong and united common approach and platform by ASEAN MPs to promote democracy in Burma and to monitor the process and progress of Burmese democratization and national reconciliation.
As the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has expressed his support for a more open, consultative and collaborative Parliament, I urge him to allow Barisan Nasional MPs to help form such a Parliamentary caucus with Opposition MPs without imposing the party whip – as the time has come for Malaysian MPs to show the nation that they have arrived at the “First World Parliament” status and are capable of working together on common issues and causes on a non-partisan basis, transcending political party differences.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor