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Wednesday September 26, 2007

Unrest in Myanmar affects Asean, says Foreign Minister

MYT 2:59:55 PM

NEW YORK: The current unrest in Myanmar is worrisome and leading to an embarrassment for Asean (Association of South-East Asian Nations), Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said. 

"We are worried about it. Although this is an internal situation, you cannot isolate your internal crisis from affecting Asean," he said. 

The military junta, he said, must show that it was heading towards democratisation. 

Otherwise, it would be seen as a joke that Asean could not resolve the Myanmar issue, he said, when asked to comment about the junta's threat to crackdown on Buddhist monks who have been marching in parts of the country. 

Protests are gaining momentum in Myanmar following a steep increase in fuel prices in August. 

Speaking to Malaysian journalists here, Syed Hamid who is here for the 62nd United Nations general assembly, said that any aggressive or hard-hitting reaction from the military junta towards the protesters would be counterproductive at this stage. 

"We do not want to interfere, yet we want them to resolve the problem," he said. 

He said the United States had already announced new sanctions against the country although Malaysia had never believed in such measures. 

"These sanctions never get to the target group. They hurt the ordinary people more," he said. 

Myanmar, he said, should be open and call upon all parties to resolve the turbulence there. 

He said Myanmar's process towards democratisation had been too slow. 

"We must see some tangible results," he said, adding that the problem must be resolved within the region. 

"If it worsens and gets out of Asean's hands, the consequences won't be good," he said. 

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