Syed Hamid: Decision lies with Myanmar

  • Nation
  • Friday, 27 Jun 2003


PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia concedes that permission to meet detained Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi lies with the junta but Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar reminded Yangon that it has to help Asean regain its credibility. 

He said those outside Asean were critical of the grouping’s policy of constructive engagement and recent events in Myanmar had proven to be a set back. 

“Not only Myanmar is being questioned. Asean is being questioned. We have to be able to convince people outside the region that the policy is working in getting both sides in Myanmar back to the reconciliation table. 

“This is an internal affair but that internal affair has got implication on Asean,” he said when commenting on a report in The Star yesterday that he had requested to see Suu Kyi. 

“If I have an opportunity to see her of course I will see her. I wanted to see her last year. 

“We would like to go and we should not be disillusioned. We should keep on trying. The final say is with Myanmar,” he added. 

Suu Kyi has been under “protective custody” since May 30 after a clash between her supporters and a pro-government group. 

Asean Foreign Ministers during their meeting in Cambodia last week had taken an unprecedented move to discuss the issue and told Myanmar to release her.  

Syed Hamid said that the discussion was a departure from the norm and showed Asean had reached a stage of maturity. 

“We told Myanmar that Suu Kyi should be released quickly and that the matter should not derail the reconciliation process in the country.” 

On the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit to be held here from Oct 11-18, Syed Hamid said the meeting would go on as scheduled. 

“Whatever rumours may be circulating, we consider that as very irresponsible,” he said after a receiving a courtesy call by OIC secretary-general Dr Abdelouahed Belkeziz at Wisma Putra. 

Dr Belkeziz, who was present at the press conference, concurred with Syed Hamid saying he had not received any indication or request from member countries for postponement or cancel the summit. 

He later paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. 

Syed Hamid also said that as part of reforms in the organisation, the question of strengthening the secretariat was also necessary. 

He said one of the problems faced by the secretariat was payment of subscription fees by member countries of which only one third had paid up their dues. 

He said despite calls by certain member countries for Malaysia to stand as a candidate for the secretary-general post in two years time, Kuala Lumpur had not decided whether to go for it. 

Syed Hamid was also non-committal over Manila’s request to lead a team of Islamic nations to monitor a proposed ceasefire with Muslim rebels in the Philippines.  

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