Saffron revolution in Burma – Malaysia and ASEAN must do more to avoid bloodbath

Malaysia and ASEAN must do more to impress on the Myanmese military junta to seek a peaceful solution to the “saffron revolution” and not to turn it into a bloodbath as in 1988.

Malaysia and ASEAN must come into the very forefront in regional and international efforts to support a peaceful resolution of the monk-led mass protest marches in Rangoon and Mandalay especially as ASEAN had given the Myanmar military junta a new legitimacy and fresh lease of life by admitting Myanmar into ASEAN ten years ago.

However, the Myanmar military junta’s promises of national reconciliation and democratization have all come to nought in the past decade, with increasing repression and pauperization of the Burmese people while the constitution-writing and elections appear to have become a century-long project.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been incarcerated about 12 of the past 18 years while the prisons teem with political prisoners.

Every ASEAN leader taking part in the current United Nations General Assembly debate should use the forum to call on the Myanmar military junta to open up a dialogue with the protest movement to work out an acceptable programme of national reconciliation and democratization — starting with the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.

They should also demand that the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should personally take a more direct charge of the UN initiatives with regard to issues of democracy and human rights in Burma, instead of leaving it to his special adviser Ibrahim Gambari who has nothing to show for his portfolio to date.

ASEAN should also get the support of China, India, Russia, United States and European Union in its diplomatic initiatives to avoid any bloody end and to work for a peaceful solution to the “saffron revolution”.

The Myanmar military junta is to be commended for its restraint so far in not resorting to force to crush the protest marches and it must be told in no uncertain terms of ASEAN and international condemnation if there is any repeat of the 1988 bloodbath.

As time is of the essence, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in the United Nations tomorrow should send a full delegation of ASEAN Foreign Ministers to Myanmar to help open up a channel for dialogue with the protest movement so that Myanmar and ASEAN would not suffer vilification in the event of another massacre of monks, students and ordinary Burmese peacefully protesting against two decades of oppression, human rights violations and economic servitude.

  1. #1 by twistedmind on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 2:36 pm

    Our Joe’s are more afraid this will happen at home, same goes with Indonesia and Philippines – so what do you expect – SILENCE!

  2. #2 by taikohtai on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 4:56 pm

    Any gross human injustice cannot withstand the test of time. ASEAN is directly responsible for the dire condition of Burma today with their weak stand against human rights violations by the Junta. It reflects their own situation in many ways, ie perversion of natural justice in their own lands.
    Western countries have been able to progress and move on mainly because of the great divide in politics, judiciary, business and administration. Today, many Western countries such as Australia are populated by many races yet their social standing is way ahead compared with Malaysia and her neighbours. DOWN with the local WARLORDS!
    Restore and Defend Real Democracy to the Rakyat!

  3. #3 by Jefus on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 6:15 pm

    Its all about oil – ask Petronas

  4. #4 by k1980 on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 6:41 pm

    Beware of the Greeks, when they come bearing gifts
    …the Bush conception of “human rights” means “oil and gas”. Bush also claimed at the UN that Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq had “asked for our help”. Given the precedents, even the isolated people in Myanmar should be afraid, very afraid.

    Why this new, sudden, Bush administration interest in regime change in Myanmar? If the US and the West are so obsessed with “human rights”, why not put pressure on the ghastly practices of the House of Saud? Or the barely disguised repression under the glitz in Persian Gulf petromonarchies? Or the bloody Islam Karimov dictatorship in Uzbekistan?

  5. #5 by undergrad2 on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 7:06 pm

    “…ASEAN had given the Myanmar military junta a new legitimacy and fresh lease of life by admitting Myanmar into ASEAN ten years ago.” KIT

    Not admitting Myanmar into this regional organization would mean missing the opportunity to engage a state like Myanmar in a dialogue with its neighbours. You cannot ignore Myanmar’s existence and the dangers it poses to free nations.

    In the U.S. there is a current debate among Presidential hopefuls that a better way to deal with nations like Iran is to open a dialogue with them.

  6. #6 by digard on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 8:07 pm

    undergrad2, often I can value your input.
    In this case, though, I feel different. The Burmese military regime has over the last decades systematically killed around 600.000 of their minorities, like Karens. There are by now close to 2 million refugees in Thailand.
    Has there been any dialogue possible with them? Except of Badawi shaking hands and smiling with the head dictator and promising to not interfere into their internal matters? The answer is clearly ‘no’. They are not interested in dialogue.

    Let’s face it, U.S.A. simply has no strong interest in Burma and bashes the generals. Singapore, China and India have, and therefore know all too well how to close an eye or two.
    What’s the talk on ‘engage’ then?

  7. #7 by Loyal Malaysian on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 8:56 pm

    The crackdown has commenced and many analysts have suggested only concerted action by countries like China, Russia , India and Thailand can force the military regime to tread carefully.
    Otherwise, no sane person can expect the flesh to hold back the bullets which the army had shown it is ever ready to use.
    Of course , I hope for a peaceful revolution but against such a cruel regime that has no compulsion against force and terror, I am not hopeful there will be any positive result for democracy.
    I will only be too happy to be proven wrong.

  8. #8 by naked taliban on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 9:47 pm

    We should learn from Mahatma Ghandi , peaceful revolution that won independence.

  9. #9 by thearmchairbitch on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 - 11:51 pm

    ASEAN is a let down insofar as it taking any leadership in in its own backyard is concerned. Remember the carnage in Timor Leste not too long ago? -ASEAN was a mere spectator while Australia (a country often oracised by this region – and particularly Malaysia – as an outsider) was the one that assumed leadership in rushing in peacekeepers to quell the carnage. What a shame!

    The reason for this lack of leadership is probably that no single country in ASEAN (with the exception of Singapore) has their own house in order. Look at all the wayang and nonsense going on domestically in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines etc. The politicians in these countries are just too preoccupied fighting fires in their own turf to cling on to power. Or, they are just too preoccupied amassing their nest eggs. Hence, who cares that a dictatorship in their midst is stifling its citizens and causing injustices.

    As for Singapore, its small geographical size makes its voice a mere whimper in influencing regional political direction despite her being the region’s economic powerhouse. It appears that territorial size (or even population) matters more. Or, it could just be that she is more concerned in its economic expansion to dabble in regional politics and human rights issues.

    Perhaps, it is simply the case that ASEAN countries are hardly the paragons of human rights as to warrant their meddling in Myanmar’s domestic affairs. It would be hypocritical of them to do so.

    Shame on you ASEAN!

  10. #10 by ablastine on Thursday, 27 September 2007 - 8:30 am

    Asean will still be calling for national reconciliation and restraint even if all the monks and civilians in Myanmar are mowed down by the military. Most of the Asean countries have their own protest marches to deal with. Those who do not have are probably doing good business with the junta so they will not bother. China will only do something if it benefits them and this time it benefits them by looking away when the killing starts. When the conditions stabilises they will be rewarded by the Generals with even more concessions on oil and other raw material for not opposing them. It is even better for China because with more sanction slap on Myanmar the General can exclusively deal only with China. So look away while your opponents are killing each other but come back to enjoy the spoils when it is finished. One important strategy in the Art of War.

    The only country that can or may do something concrete is US. I already see people bashing US here. This is a war that the US can win very fast and with minimal collateral damage. They simply need to precision bomb the residence of the top 3 Myanmar generals and all the barracks which take part in the suppression of the protest march. With the leadership dead or in disarray, the military will just melt away into the nation. Aung San Suu Kyi will simply pick up the pieces and the nation will hum again. Problem solve. The illiterate generals understand only power and violence. Show them what bombs can do to their home and families and they will understand. They will be begging for national reconciliation after that.

    If I am LKY of Singapore, I would collaborate with the US to precision bomb the murderous Generals. Singapore has the fire power even though small in size and she needs good friends in Asean. It needs to boost its only inferiority complex. It has always been the punching bags for Malaysia and Indonesia because it is deem small and insignificant and can be bullied to no end. This is a sure win war. Helping Aung San Suu Kyi to regain power in her country is not only a prestigious and potentially rewarding effort but it also show the world that Singapore got the balls. However, i understand that asking a 80+ year old man to go to war with a fellow Asean country is simply too much no matter how pragmatic and necessary it is.

  11. #11 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 27 September 2007 - 8:59 am

    What is happening in Myanmar is a vilification of not just the junta but our so-called Asian values. That so many Asian countries including China could stand by and let monks be killed says much about our tolerance for oppression and dependency on passivity for our own interest. It also says how little society there is between us, despite all our claims about cohesiveness and lack of individualism.

    Deep down,its really about Asian society failures not just political….

  12. #12 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 27 September 2007 - 9:03 am

    “undergrad2, often I can value your input. In this case, though, I feel different. ”

    I’m glad you feel different because it gives me an opportunity to engage in a discussion.

    In the field of international relations, if countries diametrically opposed to each other in values, philosophies and political systems and traditions, refuse to engage in a dialogue with each other because they are ‘different’ then the world would become a dangerous place to live in, in an age of nuclear technology and in a world that is often likened to one globalized village. We cannot ignore our enemies the way we used to. I’m not suggesting that Myanmar is our enemy.

    Malaysia cannot ignore countries like Myanmar on its borders, though ruled by a military junta or some other authoritarian regimes or dictatorship where ‘free speech’, and ‘free elections’ are seen as a threat to their power.

    I’m one of those who believe that no good will come out of ignoring those who are different from us – different even in the sense that they have hostile philosophies and political values and harbor ambitions of harming us. United States today cannot and should not ignore Iran. Iran is too dangerous to be ignored. It should be engaged no matter how useless or futile the dialogue may appear to be.

    It was a step in the right direction for ASEAN to have welcome Myanmar as a member state. Now that Myanmar has diplomatic relations with us and is part of ASEAN, we could as a member state put the goodwill we have to good use to try and influence the regime.

    The dynamics have changed. We no longer lived in a world in which distance is a barrier.

  13. #13 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 27 September 2007 - 9:27 am

    “The Burmese military regime has over the last decades systematically killed around 600.000 of their minorities, like Karens. There are by now close to 2 million refugees in Thailand.
    Has there been any dialogue possible with them?”

    Since when has it been useful for a painter to stop painting and blame the scenery which he is trying to paint?

You must be logged in to post a comment.