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Failure of Hamid visit to Myanmar - ASEAN governments, leaders and civil society must face hard decision of the purpose of Myanmar’s continued membership in ASEAN

Press Statement( 2)
by Lim Kit Siang  

, Saturday) : With the failure of the visit by Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Syed Hamid Albar as the ASEAN envoy to Myanmar, ASEAN governments, leaders and civil society must face the hard decision of the purpose of Myanmar’s continued membership in ASEAN.

Hamid’s visit to Myanmar as ASEAN envoy was decided by the ASEAN Leaders’  Summit in Kuala Lumpur last December to break the logjam in political dialogue,  democratization and national reconciliation which had become a millstone around the ASEAN neck in international relations.

Hamid’s visit to Myanmar had been repeatedly put off  by the Myanmar military junta since the original January date, and when it was allowed, the ASEAN envoy was denied access to the Burmese Opposition Leader  Aung San Suu Kyi who is currently in detention, or the National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders not in detention, making the visit a mockery of the  ASEAN  spirit and community.

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus  (AIPCM) had taken the decision in Bangkok last September that unless the Myanmar military junta could yield meaningful results in democratization and national reconciliation in 12 months, AIPMC would campaign for Myanmar’s suspension from ASEAN.

Although there is another six months to go before the expiry of  AIPMC’s year-long deadline, the open defiance of ASEAN and world opinion resulting in the failure of the Hamid fact-finding visit does not seem to give any reason for hope that the Myanmar military junta is reachable by  or amenable to  reason or  appeal to ASEAN spirit of solidarity and  community.

There is not only no light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel has become exceedingly long with the “bunker-mentality” transfer of the Myanmar capital from Yangon to 400 km north in  Pyinmana.

Hamid should make a ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday to report on his visit to Myanmar and its failure.  In the  ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Bali next month, all the other ASEAN foreign ministers must act  in unison to deplore the irresponsible conduct of the Myanmar military junta which not only condemned the Hamid visit to failure but made the ASEAN Summit which sent  an ASEAN envoy to Myanmar an international  laughing stock.  


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

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