Asean’s Albatross
covering burma and southeast asia
Sunday, November 18, 2018

Asean’s Albatross

By Asda Jayanama Thursday, March 24, 2005

(Page 4 of 5)

—Asda Jayanama


Q: So what do you think Thailand’s stance towards Burma should be?


A: I have always said very clearly that first of all we have to be, not necessarily 100 percent principled, but principled in our view about a totalitarian regime … But at the same time, my other view about Burma is that Burma is a neighboring country. You should not quarrel with your neighbors and you should not go to war with your neighbors over this principle. Because, after all, if the Burmese people do not rise up against this regime, we cannot go and invade the country. So we should have relations, maybe not excellent relations but reasonable relations, talking relations or correct relations.


Q: While Asean looks towards engagement, the US imposes economic sanctions …


A: I think they can go on doing this. It does hurt, not a great deal but it does hurt a little bit. Basically it’s a political statement, and it cannot be effective because neighbors like Thailand, China, India, Bangladesh don’t cooperate. To be effective you’ve got to have all the neighbors cooperating, at least 70 to 80 percent and that’s a problem. But I think Burma is not important to the West so they can make their statement. In a way I think it’s good that they continue doing it. Although it’s not that effective, that’s no problem. Do it.


Q: Despite repeated requests, the UN’s special rapporteur on Burma has not been allowed to visit the country since 2003. If Burma shows such flagrant disregard for diplomatic engagement how can the UN or Asean encourage political change in Burma? Is it possible for political change to come from outside the country?


A: Many people say that to have the kind of government you want you have to fight for it, from the inside. There are very few examples whereby outsiders can pressure those inside for a change of government. The one example is South Africa, but even then there was a lot of internal struggle and those on the inside played a very strong role.

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