Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

RI to assess development in Myanmar

Originally appeared in The Jakarta Post

October 20, 2011

Along with the government, the House of Representatives will assess the latest developments in Myanmar before deciding on whether to accept Myanmar’s bid for the chairmanship of ASEAN at the Bali Summit next month.

Deputy Chairman of the House’s Commission I on foreign affairs, TB Hasanuddin, said that his commission had set a meeting with the Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa, in order to assess the situation in Myanmar, including the progress that the country had made in terms of democratization.

He said that the commission and the Foreign Ministry had both received the required input to conduct an assessment, and that Indonesia was expected to take the wise diplomatic step of encouraging the Myanmarese government to make further progress at home.

“We will assess whether it is the right time to rely on Myanmar to chair ASEAN, or we will leave Myanmar in isolation. But leaving Myanmar in isolation could be counterproductive for ASEAN and its regional interests,” he said.

Hasanuddin, also a legislator of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, said that the commission had already received inputs and recommendations from the ASEAN Interparliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) and the Burma Partnership, which represents Myanmarese civil society.

“What Indonesia will bring to the summit will bring benefit to both Myanmar and ASEAN,” he added.

The ASEAN Summit, scheduled for Nov. 17 and preceeded by a series of ASEAN ministerial meetings, has on its main agenda the discussion of economic, defense and political issues across the Southeast Asian region, including the approval of Myanmar’s ASEAN chairmanship in 2014.

The AIPMC and the Burma Partnership called on Indonesia to suspend the approval of Myanmar’s ASEAN chairmanship bid during the summit until the Myanmarese government makes significant progress towards democratization.

Burma Partnership coordinator, Khin Ohmar, said that despite the recent general election, which formed President Thien Sein’s government and saw the release of 220 political prisoners, democracy in Myanmar had yet to be upheld.

She said that the way the recent general election was conducted did not reflect a democratic process, with power vested not in the president but in the eleven-member National Defense and Security Council that was closely controlled by former military junta leaders.

The Myanmarese government should also release the remaining 1,800 political prisoners (not 18,000 as it was reported on Wednesday), and stop the atrocities against minority ethnic groups, including the Katchin and the Karen, to show a strong commitment to democracy and human rights, she said.

Effendy Choirie, a commission member, said that Indonesia should maintain its neutrality in dealing with the Myanmar issue, but that it could enhance lobbying with other ASEAN member countries to encourage the Myanmar president to develop a democratic government.

View the original article here.

This post is in: ASEAN, News Clip