Without respecting ASEAN Charter, Burma doesn’t deserve ASEAN chair

Published by rudy Date posted on April 19, 2011

The Burma question seems unresolved within the short-term as Asian leaders have no compassion towards the people of Burma who have been suffering hellish plights underneath an atrocious military dictatorship. Currently, they are collaborating with Thein Sein’s sham civilian government so as to exploit the resource-rich country.

If China together with ASEAN countries were high-minded and unbiased nations, the question of Burma could be easily sorted out.

Particularly, the ASEAN doesn’t follow its well-founded principles and gives shelter  to the dictators, not the oppressed people. It is the time for ASEAN to amend its manners and prove compassion towards the people of Burma.

Kavi Chongkittavorn on ASEAN and Burma ‘The Nation (Thailand)’: “Last week, when the newly appointed foreign minister of Burma Wunna Maung Lwin briefed the Asean foreign minister in Bangkok on the latest political situation inside his country, he also asked for the grouping’s support to allow Burma to take the role of chairman.”

Khun Kavi says in his article, “Since its admission in 1997, Burma has resisted repeated calls from Asean for national reconciliation, political reforms as well as hordes of other issues. As part of a family, Asean has quietly swallowed its pride and lived with its bruised reputation to render support for the brutal regime in Naypyidaw. At this juncture, Asean still holds the last bargaining chip, albeit very small, to salvage international standing of the group. At the Bangkok meeting, Singapore and Malaysia made it clear they wanted a credible Burma to chair Asean.”

He also pointed out in his ‘Regional Perspective’ commentary –    Burma seeking to be the chairman of Asean in 2014 – that Burma desires ASEAN leaders to come to a decision at the approaching summit on May 7-8 in Jakarta so as to have enough time organizing the year-long chair in three years. However, several ASEAN countries still have doubts. Before ASEAN makes any decision on this matter, they have asked the Burmese Government to allow a delegate from ASEAN to visit the country to assess the latest situation and its readiness to take up the chair. Foreign Minister of Burma could not decide and said he would take the matter back to the head of state.

Khun Kavi’s comment exactly resembles the concern of Burmese people. The new Thein Sein led namesake civilian government may not possess independent decision-making power which is still in the hand of Senior General Than Shwe. The new Burmese civilian government ought to prove that it has complete self-sufficiency exclusive of the military dictatorship.

But, as the Burmese FM Maung Lwin look as if he is a puppet, he cannot make a positive response to accept a delegate from Asean to visit the country to evaluate the latest situation and its readiness to take up the chair. Maung Lwin’s stance clearly illustrates the true state of the military dominated country. ASEAN must be very careful in its decision whether to allow Burma as its chair in near future. If ASEAN has watchful eyes, it can easily see that as soon as the new civilian government was installed at the end of March in Burma’s new capital, one of the first significant tasks President Thein Sein undertook was to propose a letter to the Asean Secretariat stating Burma’s willingness to adopt the grouping’s chair in 2014.

Here also, I do agree with Kavi Chongkittavorn’s recommendation that an immediate positive response to the grouping’s offer for a fact-finding mission should be useful after the traditional New Year festival. Without counting the facts on the ground, ASEAN should not support Burma’s propositions including the lifting of sanctions. Otherwise, it would deteriorate the grouping’s image. Finally, what decision the grouping makes will directly impact on Asean since it has a series of prestigious meetings and projects with its dialogue partners.

On the other hand, the EU has softened its stance with sanctions recently to show its willingness to fit into place in further exchange of ideas. The ASEAN should notice EU’s new move and at the same time ASEAN has to take note of the US’s new drive to engage Burma by assigning a US envoy to Burma, Derek Mitchell, who still waits for backing from the US Senate.

Taking examples of the EU and the US, ASEAN itself should encourage its member Burma to prepare a national reconciliation talk among the Burma’s stake-holders. At this juncture, the most important thing ASEAN has to do is driving the new Thein Sein government to release all political prisoners as a sign of goodwill message not only to its own people but also to the International Community.

In brief, while dealing with the Burma issue, ASEAN must stand for the ASEAN Charter that specifies the fidelity “to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. –Zin Linn, UTC

Month – Workers’ month

“Hot for workers rights!”


Solidarity with CTU Myanmar,
trade unions around the world,
for democracy in Myanmar,
with the daily protests of
people in Myanmar against
the military coup and
continuing oppression.


Accept National Unity Government
(NUG) of Myanmar.
Reject Military!

#WearMask #WashHands

Time to support & empower survivors.
Time to spark a global conversation.
Time for #GenerationEquality to #orangetheworld!
Trade Union Solidarity Campaigns
Get Email from NTUC
Article Categories