KUALA LUMPUR: Asean’s patience with Myanmar has been stretched almost to the limit, and it has told the military junta to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and work towards democratic reforms.
Describing Myanmar as a cause of embarrassment to Asean, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the grouping wanted to see tangible results.
Without wanting to interfere in Myanmar’s internal affairs, the grouping's members nonetheless felt this issue has created some measure of embarrassment for Asean countries.
“In so far as we respect Myanmar’s position as a member of Asean, I don’t think there are countries that do not feel impatient and uncomfortable, because the issue does create problems and difficulties for us,” he said at the end of the Asean Ministerial Meeting here yesterday ahead of the summit on Monday.
Syed Hamid said Myanmar had also agreed to his proposal for a second trip by Malaysia as Asean chairman to Yangon.
“They have agreed but for us to go to another country that is a sovereign state, it necessitates that country making an affirmative decision.”
Syed Hamid made the first trip to Myanmar last month, during which he told Yangon that Asean had been pressured by the international community to get its roadmap to democracy on track.
He also said that Myanmar informed Asean that it understood the grouping’s position and that it would be discussed at the Asean leaders’ level.
Myanmar, which joined Asean in 1997, is causing unease within the grouping due to its human rights record.
In 2003, Myanmar announced its “roadmap” to democracy but hardly any progress has been made and Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. Last week, the junta extended her house arrest for a further six months.
Syed Hamid said Asean hoped all countries interested in seeing Myanmar become a democratic country should be involved in the process of reconciliation for a united Myanmar.
“We want to ensure that Myanmar comes out with a tangible result. We want to see some movement that they are leading towards this.”
Expressing similar sentiments, Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon said: “We are interested to work together to see the move towards national reconciliation in Myanmar.”
Related Stories:India agrees to revise exclusion list for FTA talks Thailand defers signing due to rice impasse Proposal to enhance close ties Wowed by our colourful batik Russia likely to remain East Asia Summit partner India more keen on developing better ties