Asean and Suu Kyi Must Work Together for the Good of Burma
covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, August 03, 2020

Asean and Suu Kyi Must Work Together for the Good of Burma


(Page 2 of 2)

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad pressed Asean to expel Burma, even though he and ex-president Suharto had spearheaded the effort to admit the country in 1997.

The second occasion came amid frustration in Asean at the government's intransigence. At the Asean summit in Vientiane in 2004, the leaders took a rare joint action forcing Burma to skip the Asean chair in 2006, with Rangoon citing domestic constraints as the reason.

The third time was in New York on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting in New York at the end of September 2007. After a long and heated debate, Asean issued its strongest statement expressing “revulsion” against the killing of Buddhist monks and supporters of the democratic movement. It was at this crucial moment that Asean and the West, especially the US, held close consultations about their joint efforts to influence positive change in Burma. A few months later, Barack Obama was elected president of the US with a new policy focus on Asia, in particular Asean, which has paved the way for the present rapprochement with Burma.

However, it is worth mentioning that during Thailand's 18-month chair from July 2008 to December 2010, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya tried to help Suu Kyi win her freedom by initiating a request for a pardon following a court decision convicting her of violating Burma's internal security law. But Asean could not reach a consensus due to strong opposition from the new Asean members.

In retrospect, the evolution of Asean-Burma relations has contributed to the recognition the Thein Sein government now enjoys. Suu Kyi's role has been indispensable. The most frequently asked question today is: What would happen if Burma had been left behind and not allowed to join Asean? Burma is emerging from its isolation. Suu Kyi is free and popular and giving hope to her peoples. Most importantly, Burma is no longer the pawn of India and China. If the ongoing reforms promote democratic developments, Burma could easily elevate itself as a key regional player, as Indonesia has succeeded in doing since its political transformation in 1998.

Undeniably, Burma's two decades of oppression, strongly backed by Asean, have antagonized Suu Kyi and created a deep scar on her psyche. Everything that Asean did upset her; worse still, it consistently undermined her democratic struggle, not to mention prolonging the suffering of the Burmese people.

The time has come now for both sides to show leadership to enable the healing process to begin. They must reach out to each other to reconcile past differences. They have to synergize strategies and efforts to ensure that there is no going back on the road to reform, and also to ease the country's regional integration. Only then can Burma become a worthy family member of Asean.

Kavi Chongkittavorn is senior editor and a columnist at the Bangkok-based English-language daily newspaper, The Nation. This article appeared in The Nation on Monday.

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kerry Wrote:
If ASEAN keeps moving in the right direction, and its support to Burma is unequivocal at this time, and ALL nations examine their own human rights transgressions and laws, and do whatever has to be done to move towards C21st thinking and freedom, then this must be seen as positive movement.

Burma INDEED has full and overdue capacity to be a leader in the region. When this tragic obscene nonsense is over (and that is close) no-one doubts that Burma will move into a new unity, strength, and peace.

All those well known entities who opposed this can slink off, your time is over, and your business and families will not be respected. Make true amends starting now, and learn to pray. Some human journeys have just begun.

Terry Evans Wrote:
The reality is that many of the South Asian countries have weak or poor state governance and corruption.

Public View Wrote:
Whether Myanmar joins ASEAN or not Myanmar must change the way we establish in public sectors, the strategy, the government's input for the public to be able to live like the public in ASEAN countries.
We need to address this to work together not only our own support but also the support from foreign countries.

Phyo Oo Wrote:
What a load of junk, Kavi. You and your so-called "three occasions on which Asean found the collective courage to defend her and criticize the Burmese government" were to save ASEAN's shameless face. Nothing to do with Suu Kyi nor the sake of Burmese people. Look back the undefendable events happening in Burma in those time. Now you say Suu Kyi needs to to reach out to reconcile past differences? Only then can Burma become a worthy family member of Asean? Get real, Kavi. The question has to be "is ASEAN worthy of Burma's membership when Burma becomes a true democratic country one day?

Than Lwin Wrote:
Democracies within Asean know very well how difficult and how much effort and sacrifices are needed to win an election. Even more so when it were to be held under an oppressive dictatorship regime. But more than 2 decades ago, the people of Burma overwhelmingly voted the person they loved with the bottom of their heart. In fact, if democratic principles are to be upheld, there is no leader more representative of her people than Daw Aung Suu Kyi, especially in this part of the world. Asean all along knows what Burmese people’s wish is but they chooses to ignore it, appeases the evil regime, which remains business as usual, continue killing and raping its own people, thereby prolonging the suffering of Burmese people.

Actually, this is a loose grouping with no morality, no principle and no rules. It accepts communists, fascists, rapists, and murderers. It is not for the people of Asean countries but a club of the people in power. That’s all. True democracies should not join or remain as a member in this grouping.

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