Tuesday, July 21, 2009

FM:Burma key to fate of Asean

No plans to revise engagement policy


PHUKET (Bangkok Post): The Association of Southeast Asian Nations cannot move forward until changes occur in Burma, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya says.

The Burmese issue was the focus of talks among Southeast Asian foreign ministers here yesterday.

Other Asean ministers reiterated a call for the Burmese government to immediately release political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to pave the way for national reconciliation and their participation in "inclusive" general elections next year.

Despite the strong call for change, the 10-member grouping showed no intention to revise its constructive engagement with the military regime.

"Recognising the fact that the Myanmar [Burmese] government has been trying to address many complex challenges, we remained constructively engaged with Myanmar as part of the Asean Community building process," they said in a statement released yesterday.

Burma maintained its position that "pressure from the outside and economic sanctions were hampering" its plan to restore democracy and development efforts, the statement said. (JEG's: what economy and development has to do with human rights? - or perhaps he meant; no slavery no development?)

But Mr Kasit, who is chairing the foreign ministers' meeting, said his Burmese counterpart Nyan Win knew full well Asean could not move forward without changes in Burma. So it was a joint undertaking, he said.

Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said Asean members should come forward with their own contribution to assistance in the Cyclone Nargis humanitarian efforts. Burma had received at least US$100 million (3.5 billion baht) in pledges for the latter half of the three-year recovery plan prepared by the Tripartite Core Group comprising representatives from the United Nations, Burma and Asean.

"The Asean contributions will create a momentum for international donors to give more support to the $300 million needed for the recovery," he said. (JEG's: once I see change towards human rights and freedom for ALL prisoners sentenced under false charges, my purse remains zipped...)

He called for a similar strategy in dealing with the Rohingya issue in Burma. "There should be a way for the tripartite group to work together to deliver humanitarian assistance to reduce the social and economic pressures that are pushing the people out of the country," Mr Surin said.

In his opening statement to the ministerial meeting, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva outlined the future of the group which needed quick and united action to tackle threats and challenges and better linkages to serve the region's single market idea.

"Effective action must replace extended deliberation. We must show to the world that Asean is ready to meet any challenge and is well-prepared to act decisively," Mr Abhisit said.

He said the future of the group depended on efforts to invest in education and other human resource development.

"Globalisation will be beneficial only if the people in the region are competitive, prepared and able to take advantage of it," he said.

Mr Abhisit repeated calls to oppose protectionism and urged Asean to live with others' expectations of it being a driving force.

"The world is closely watching Asean, pinning on us the hope that we will be a dynamic growth pole for the global economy in this time of crisis," he said.

The ministers also endorsed the terms of reference on the Asean Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights amid Indonesian discontent over the scope of the agency's functions.

Indonesia wanted the commission to be set up in October to do more than promoting rights issues among the 10 Asean members.

Mr Kasit said at the end of the meeting Asean had opted to work towards conciliation and consultation in an amicable manner when there were differences or non-compliance including on human rights matters.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too