Formation of Singapore Parliamentary Caucus on Myanmar marks another maturation of the ASEAN idea – to promote democratization in Burma as well as in individual ASEAN countries


Media Statement (2)

by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament, Friday): The formation of the Singapore Parliamentary Caucus on Myanmar, coinciding with the fifth meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)  in  Singapore yesterday marks another maturation of the ASEAN idea – to promote democratization in Burma as well as in the individual ASEAN countries.

Although there were initially  concerns that the  momentum launched by ASEAN parliamentarians at the Kuala Lumpur Workshop on democracy in Myanmar last November which led to the formation of AIPMC might fizzle out, and that AIPMC itself might have to “close shop” after four successful meetings in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila in the past six months, the Singapore meeting of AIPMC yesterday was most significant,  meaningful and successful  for four  reasons:

  • The completion of the formation of individual parliamentary caucus on Myanmar in the ASEAN “original five” nations, viz Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines to band together ASEAN parliamentarians who are concerned about democracy and human rights in Myanmar, without binding states, governments or political parties;
  • The reaffirmation of ASEAN parliamentarians to continue to dedicate themselves to the cause of democratization and national reconciliation in Myanmar, in particular the immediate and unconditional release of Burmese Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners as well the convening of a meaningful political dialogue and national constitutional convention  so that the  43 million  people in Myanmar can be brought into the political economy  and modern  environment of the 21st century;
  • The policy commitment to campaign against the ASEAN Chair 2006 from being handed over to the Myanmar military junta  in the absence of meaningful democratization and national reconciliation initiatives in Myanmar, and to continue to work for democracy and  human rights in Myanmar even if the Myanmar military junta voluntarily postpones  its ASEAN Chairmanship at the 38th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM)  in Vientiane, Laos on July 24-29, 2005;
  • The maturation of the ASEAN idea from an elitist organization in the past 38 years, a primarily government-determined and directed body  into a more  pluralistic, democratic and people-centric concept where there is increasing space for the development  and mobilization of parliamentary and civil society views and movements which may not coincide with current official positions but which are respected by the respective governments.

At the Singapore AIPMC meeting yesterday, Indonesian Parliamentarian Ms Tristanti Mitayani reported that the Indonesian Parliament’s Commission on Defence and Foreign Affairs of which she is a member had adopted a resolution urging the Indonesian Government to boycott ASEAN meetings next year if Myanmar takes over the ASEAN chairmanship.

ASEAN Parliamentarians should step up the campaign  for democratization and national reconciliation in Myanmar in the next two months before the 38th AMM in Laos to impress on the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting the importance of heeding and respecting growing ASEAN parliamentary and civil society opinion that (i) Myanmar should not take the ASEAN Chair 2006 in the absence of meaningful democratization and national reconciliation efforts; and (ii) that even if Myanmar voluntarily postpones its ASEAN Chairmanship 2006, the AMM should go on public record to hold the  Myanmar military junta to its undertaking when it was admitted into ASEAN in 1997 to work towards democratization and national reconciliation in Myanmar.




*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman