Archive for category Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Monday trial – Malaysian Cabinet should condemn Myanmar junta on Wednesday

ASEAN should condemn the Myanmar military junta if its proceeds tomorrow with the arbitrary trial of Nobel Peace Prize Laureatee and Burmese pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi despite world-wide protests and release her from the notorious Insein Prison.

The revocation of the licence of a top lawyer, Aung Thien, barring him from defending Suu Kyi is ominous sign of the length the Myanmese military junta is prepared to go ensure that she remains in detention despite the expected expiry of her six-year house arrest on May 27 and to keep her sidelined ahead of the junta’s promised elections in 2010 as part of its sham seven-step “roadmap to democracy”.

Malaysia should take the lead in such ASEAN condemnation which should be formally decided by the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »


ASSK’s Monday trial – Malaysia/ASEAN should pressure Myanmar junta as ASEAN Charter should not be human rights “whitewash”

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should lead Malaysia and ASEAN to pressure the Myanmar military junta to release Burmese democracy icon and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to prove to the world that the ASEAN Charter is no “whitewash” for the most egregious human rights violations in Myanmar.

Malaysia and ASEAN’s credibility in international society are also dragged through the mud when Suu Kyi was indicted with the ridiculous charge of breaching the terms of her house arrest over a bizarre incident in which a US Vietnam veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder swam to her lakeside house.

Charged under the country’s Law Safeguarding the State from the Dangers of Subversive Elements, which carries jail sentence up to five years, Suu Kyi faces lengthy and harsh incarceration in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison.

The purpose clearly is to stretch her detention past its supposed expiry date this month and through controversial elections due in 2010, an important plank of the Myanmese military junta’s sham “12-step road to democracy”.
Read the rest of this entry »


Lugar Report on complicity of Malaysian officials in human trafficking of Burmese refugees for prostitution/forced labour – Najib must act now

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should respond with instant government action in keeping with his “Performance Now” motto on the Lugar Report which accused Malaysian officials of complicity in the human trafficking of Burmese refugees who have been sold into prostitution and other kinds of forced labour in recent years.

It has been reported in the international press, including the Financial Times and IPS, that Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has handed to the Malaysian government a report “Trafficking and Extortion of Burmese Migrants in Malaysia and Southern Thailand”.

The report is based on first person accounts of extortion and trafficking in Malaysia and along the Malaysia-Thailand border. Committee information comes from experiences of Burmese refugees resettled in the United States and other countries.

The report highlights the plight of Burmese migrants who crossed Thailand into Malaysia in the hope of registering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and then being resettled in a third country.

According to the investigation, Malaysian officials have transported migrants – including some who had registered with UNHCR – from detention centres to the Thai border for deportation. At the border, however, migrants are handed to traffickers unless they can pay a ransom. Read the rest of this entry »


Extension of Suu Kyi’s detention – Malaysia should lead ASEAN condemnation

During the committee stage debate of the Foreign Ministry in Parliament this morning, I called on the Malaysian government to lead the ASEAN condemnation of the Myanmar military junta for the extension of detention of Burmese Opposition Leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi has been incarcerated for more than 13 years in the past 18 years, with the present five-year detention going back to the Depayin Massacre in May 2003.

At the time, the Malaysian Foreign Minister was in the forefront in publicly calling for her immediate release and the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had even warned that Myanmar might be suspended or expelled from ASEAN if the military junta continued to defy regional and international opinion.

The Myanmese military junta now appeared to have the upper hand, with no condemnation or protest from Malaysia or ASEAN for the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention, making a complete mockery of the ASEAN Charter and ASEAN’s “constructive engagement” policy with Myanmar to initiate democratization and national reconciliation in Burma, the reason given by Malaysia for spearheading Myanmar’s entry into ASEAN in 1997.

Together with the sham referendum on May 10 and May 24, held when the country was hard hit by the cyclone Nargis disaster, claiming over 100,000 dead, some 250,000 missing and over two million victims, just to legitimize the undemocratic regime of the Myanmar military junta, Malaysia and ASEAN should lead instead of straggling behind international pressure to demand greater democratic change in Burma.


Cyclone Nargis and callous Myanmar military rulers – Let ASEAN be first to condemn

Let ASEAN be the first to condemn the Myanmar military junta for its callousness in not suspending its sham referendum to legitimize its 46-year dictatorship in the face of the Cyclone Nargis devastation.

On May 3, 2008, cyclone Nargis struck the Irrawaddy delta and wiped out entire villages as it left a path of destruction across five regions. Over seven million people were affected by the storm, with estimates of dead ranging from 25,000 to 100,000 and up to a million homeless.

ASEAN governments and leaders cannot remain silent at the irresponsible and inhumane conduct of the Myanmese military rulers which seized a shipment of United Nations food aid intended for victims of the devastating cyclone, declaring that they would accept donations of food and medicine but not the foreign aid workers. Read the rest of this entry »


Unfree Penang Free School

by Allen Chee

I am your blog’s regular reader and an active follower of the Malaysian Politics.

Today I read your assertions on the various dysfunctional measures which the Government have undertaken that promotes racial polarisation and intolerance amongst the different races in Malaysia. I would like to point to Saudara Lim to a particular matter which I have taken a personal interest.

I believe Saudara Lim would know that the oldest school in Malaysia is Penang Free School. I am from this school and I am very proud to be associated with this school as an ex-student.

However the impression of Penang Free School being a premier school started to change over the past decade where efforts are covertly undertaken to islamize the school. The changes, have effectively change the landscape of education in the school with more islamic activities being conducted and so on and so forth.

I heard from anxious parents and ex-frees about all these and to be honest, I felt rather helpless on how to stop this from happening as technically speaking it is not legally wrong but perhaps only morally wrong. Read the rest of this entry »


ASEAN must not allow Myanmar military junta to again indulge in “One step forward, two three steps backward” tactics

The United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Sergio Pinheiro is now in Burma surveying the human rights situation in the country, and according to reports, visited the infamous Insein jail outside Yangon.

Last week, the United Nations Secretary-General’s special advisor on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari made his second visit to the country after the crackdown of the “saffron revolution” in September.

What is shocking and outrageous is up to now, neither ASEAN nor the international community know what was the death toll and how many people were detained in the junta’s bloody suppression of the pro-democracy “saffron revolution”.

The Myanmar military junta claims 10 people died and only 91 of the 3,000 originally detained were being held.

Nobody believes these figures — as the death toll from the “saffron revolution” is believed to be in scores if not in hundreds. Monks have reported that at least five of their brethren were killed. Amnesty International has estimated that 700 people arrested over the September protests are still in detention.

Although the Myanmar military junta has recently shown a more accommodating face, as in permitting Aung San Suu Kyi, who had spent 12 of the past 18 years under house arrest, to meet key members of her National League for Democracy (NLD), the question is whether the Myanmar military junta is indulging in its favourite tactics of “one step forward, two three steps backwards” as part of its long-standing diversionary tactics to deflect international criticism and maintain its grip on power. Read the rest of this entry »


ASEAN Charter – why sign it in Singapore Summit if it will be instantly discredited by Myanmar?

United Nations special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari has asked ASEAN nations “to turn rhetoric into real action”.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday after a two-day visit to Malaysia, which had included “substantive discussions” with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Gambari said:

“We appreciate the strong statement coming out of ASEAN but now is the time to work together for concrete results.”

The next one month must see concrete results from both Gambari and the ASEAN Summit in Singapore to get the political dialogue for national reconciliation and democratization in Burma off the ground or ASEAN and UN would again be led up by the garden path by Myanmese military junta to aid and abet the repressive and corrupt military rule in the narco-state.

Although Gambari said that the United Nations will not compel ASEAN to suspend Myanmar as a member but instead encourage it to remain engaged with the junta government to restore the democratic process and respect for human rights in the country, the suspension and expulsion of Myanmar from the regional organization must remain an option of the ASEAN governments and peoples if the Myanmese military junta remain totally impervious after two decades to calls for a tripartite dialogue among the generals, pro-democracy activists led by Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic nationalities to start the process of national reconciliation and democratization. Read the rest of this entry »


“Never” suspend Myanmar from ASEAN – Hamid’s statement most deplorable and reprehensible

I am totally flabbergasted by the statement of the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar that ASEAN will never suspend Myanmar despite its bloody crackdown on mass protests after his meeting with the United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari yesterday.

Hamid’s declaration is most deplorable and reprehensible as it has undone the “revulsion” statement of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers in the United Nations last month over the violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations in Myanmar, given encouragement to the Myanmar military junta’s hardline position and undermined Ibrahim Gambari’s diplomatic efforts to kickstart a political dialogue in Burma for national reconciliation and democratization.

Malaysia’s public position that Myanmar will never be suspended from ASEAN under any circumstances will only strengthen and harden the Myanmar military junta in its defiant and unrepentant responses to the international outrage at its bloody repression of peaceful dissent, shrugging off international action to punish it for its crackdown of the saffron revolution last month, even as Japan cut aid and European nations widened sanctions.

Even if the Malaysian government is currently of the view that Myanmar should never be suspended, let alone expelled, from ASEAN whatever egregious violations of human rights and democratic freedoms of the people of Burma are committed by the Myanmar military junta, why was it tactically necessary for Hamid to make such a public statement at a time when every lever should be applied to single-mindedly impress on the Myanmar military junta the unity and weight of regional and international opinion that it should respond positively to United Nations initiatives for a political dialogue for national reconciliation and democratization in Burma and to end all human right violations. Read the rest of this entry »


Burma’s Monks: Ethics is not confined to Books and Temples

By Farish A Noor
The Other Malaysia

By now the international community is fully aware of the recent developments in Burma, a country that has been under military rule and isolated from the rest of the globe since 1963. The images of Burmese Buddhist monks taking to the streets and defying the armed might of the Burmese junta and its security apparatus reminds us of familiar scenes dating back to the 1980s, and echo the democratic revolutions we have seen elsewhere in Asia, including China, since then.

While the fate of Burma and her people hang in the balance, the protest of the monks — many of whom happen to come from ordinary Burmese families with scant political protection themselves — teaches us a vital lesson and is a model for many progressive theologians and religious activists to follow. It is sometimes said that in the post-Enlightenment age we live in there is little concern for religion and that religion has no place in society. Worst still, the political instrumentalisation of religion for clearly divisive and sectarian ends has further added scepticism for many who believe that religion is best kept out of politics and the public domain, where it has often been abused. (A view that many would concur with). Unfortunately today any talk of religious ethics is often met with images of Bible-thumping evangelists talking of holy wars and moral crusades, angry bearded fanatics burning books and nosey neighbours spying on what the people next door are doing. Are religion and ethics destined to remain forever trapped in the nonsensical and pointless debate over who is holier and who wears his or her religion on the sleeves? Has religion nothing to say on pressing issues of the day such as fundamental political rights and liberties, democracy and rule of law? Read the rest of this entry »


Petition – Petronas’ corporate responsibility for the violent repression of saffron revolution


by Daniel Chong


As you have highlighted in your blog, things are not well in Burma and for me it is not good that the corporations are able to keep silent while the people, NGOs and governments are making all the headlines in the press.

I think Burma is our little version of Afghanistan (important pipelines, warlords, refugees, drugs…) Its unsettling that we the neighbours have adopted a “close one eye” mentality.

Please have a look at this petition I wrote. If you support it, I hope you can make a mention of it in your blog. If not could you forward it to someone who might? Read the rest of this entry »


Violent repression of “saffron revolution” – an ASEAN failure and responsibility for which ASEAN nations must make amends

Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar yesterday called on the military junta in Myanmar to begin immediate talks with pre-democracy supporters led by Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the future of Myanmar before the international community “piles on the pressure”.

While Hamid’s call is welcome, the question must be asked as to what ASEAN is doing to pressure the Myanmar military junta to conduct itself not only as a responsible member of the international community but also of ASEAN in terms of the most minimal respect for human rights and democratic freedoms for its people.

After admitting Myanmar as a member for a decade, ASEAN cannot just wash its hands of any responsibility for what had happened in Burma and just “pass the buck” to the international community to “pile up the pressure”.

Since the brutal and violent repression of the “saffron revolution” two weeks ago, ASEAN government leaders have been using stronger language than before against the Myanmar military junta, starting with the expression of “revulsion” by the ASEAN foreign ministers at the United Nations over the killings and suppression of the monks-led peaceful protests.

Just stronger language however is grossly inadequate to the brutal and bloody crackdown of the monks-led peaceful protests in Burma if it is not matched with action.

The Myanmar military junta was admitted into ASEAN ten years ago in the teeth of regional and international opposition on the ground that the ASEAN constructive engagement policy with the Myanmar military junta would pave the way for national reconciliation and democratization in Burma.

In the past ten years, the ASEAN constructive engagement policy has turned out to be a one-way unconditional engagement with the Myanmar military junta, yielding no results whatsosever. It has now been totally discredited by the violent repression of the “saffron revolution”, with troops quashing the peaceful protests with gunfire. Read the rest of this entry »


ASEAN mission on reports of massacre of thousands of monks and protestors by military junta last week

I have no objection to UMNO Youth deputy leader Khairy Jamaluddin “hijacking” the NGO protests at the Myanmar Embassy yesterday, particularly the Malaysian Youth Coalition for Peace and Freedom in Burma, provided this represents a genuine change of heart and radical policy alteration on democracy and human rights in Burma by UMNO Youth.

The question is whether what happened yesterday was a cynical hogging of the publicity limelight by Khairy with no meaningful commitment by Umno Youth to the cause of democracy and human rights in Burma or whether it signaled that UMNO Youth is now prepared to join forces with all pro-democracy and pro-human rights activists to mobilize greater Malaysian and ASEAN support to end the long night of savage and bloody dictatorship of the military junta in Burma.

What is most disturbing is the latest claim in the international media that thousands of protestors are dead and that bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle.

Hla Win, 42, a former chief of military intelligence in Rangoon’s northern region and who fled when ordered to help massacre monks who had led last week’s mass protests, said the toll of deaths in Burma was in the region of several thousand.

The international media also reported accounts from other exiles along the Thai-Burma border confirming that hundreds of monks had simply “disappeared”.

Dissidents hiding along the Burma border said thousands of monks had been locked up and were being beaten inside blood-stained temples. Read the rest of this entry »


Burma bloody crackdown – ASEAN high-level delegation to find out actual death toll

ASEAN should send a high-level delegation to Myanmar to ascertain the actual death toll from the bloody military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful protests as it is not only Myanmar but all ASEAN member nations which are directly affected by the savage suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Myanmar.

The Myanmese military junta has officially admitted to 10 dead three days ago which has no credibility whatsoever.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that the loss of life in Burma is far greater than is being reported while the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer claimed that the death toll is “substantially higher” than the official Myanmese figure and could be in multiples of ten higher, i.e. over 100 dead.

Dissident groups estimate close to 200 people have been killed by government forces.

Malaysia and all the other ASEAN nations cannot be impervious to the actual death toll in the carnage in Burma in the past four days.

As the Myanmar military junta had promised to usher in national reconciliation and democratization on its admission into ASEAN ten years ago in 1997, ASEAN and its member nations must be concerned about the actual death toll in Burma as equally at stake are the international reputation, credibility and even legitimacy of ASEAN and its member nations.

As Myanmar had been admitted into ASEAN in the teeth of regional and international opposition, ASEAN member nations cannot sit by the sidelines to wait for the outcome of the visit to Myanmar by the United Nations special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari but must undertake its own initiatives.

The least ASEAN can do is to send a high-level delegation to ascertain the actual death toll from the bloody military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful protests, seek release of all detained monks and protestors (including Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners) and broker a peaceful dialogue with all stakeholders in Burma. Read the rest of this entry »


Burma carnage – call on ASEAN Parliaments to meet in emergency session within 3 days

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was shown on world-wide television expressing Malaysia’s “disapproval, together with other Asean countries, on the use of excessive force by the Myanmar government to put down justifiable civilian protests” in his speech at the 62nd General Assembly yesterday.

I commend Abdullah for speaking up in the United Nations although stronger language would have been more appropriate and fully justified in keeping with the “revulsion” earlier expressed by the foreign ministers of ASEAN at the UN “over reports that the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities”.

Abdullah must feel a personal responsibility for the carnage taking place in Myanmar because he was the Foreign Minister ten years ago when Malaysia spearheaded the campaign to defy regional and international opinion to admit Myanmar into ASEAN in 1997, promising a constructive engagement policy which will lead to national reconciliation and democratization in Burma.

Ten years down the road, the Myanmar military junta’s promises of reform have turned to ashes and Burma is teetering on the edge of another bloodbath to repeat the massacre of 1988 where over 3,000 pro-democracy activists, students and supporters were mowed down by a brutal and inhuman military — a dark page in the history of mankind.

Compounding the bloody military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful demonstrators in the past three days are the newly-released satellite photos by the American Association for the Advancement of Science providing evidence of ethnic cleansing of the ethnic minority Karens in eastern Myanmar, destroying villages and relocating people in the countryside.

As a result, it is not adequate for ASEAN leaders just to “wash their hands” of responsibility of what is happening in Myanmar with expressions of “revulsion” and “disapproval”, or even admission as by Abdullah in New York yesterday that the Asean’s constructive engagement policy with the Myanmar military government had failed and the need to “ensure that Myanmar adheres and fulfils the regional grouping’s interest” – whatever that means. Read the rest of this entry »


Burma crackdown – Abdullah must speak up in UN to mobilise international opinion against another 1988 massacre

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers have come out with a strong statement in the United Nations demanding the Myanmar military junta stop using violence against demonstrators and voiced “revulsion” at the killings at Yangon.

However, the time for just strong statements is past as it has been overtaken by the brutality of the violent crackdown in Burma in the past two days and concrete ASEAN and international action is urgently needed to ensure that the 40th ASEAN anniversary at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore in November and the 10th anniversary of Myanmar’s admission into ASEAN are not marred by another dastardly repeat of the 1988 massacre where thousands pro-democracy activisits and supporters were killed by the Myanmese military.

The Myanmar military junta has confirmed that nine people, including a Japanese journalist, had been killed in the brutal crackdown of the peaceful demonstrators led by monks in the past two days, although the true Burma death toll may never be known.

A source from the National League for Democracy inside Burma, citing hospital contacts, said 30 bodies had been brought to the hospital on Wednesday alone.

Having admitted Myanmar as a member of ASEAN with the reciprocal understanding that the Myanmar military junta would seriously embark on national reconciliation and democratization in Burma, ASEAN leaders cannot just wring their hands in impotence and revulsion with another round of violent crackdown of peaceful protestors in Burma.

I urgently call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who is in New York to participate in the annual United Nations General Assembly debate to place Burma as the top priority of his address and, together with other ASEAN leaders, speak up in United Nations to rally international support for a special debate in the General Assembly and emergency meeting of Security Council on the violent crackdown of peaceful protests by Myanmar military junta. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia should support suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN/UN if there is another 1988 bloodbath in Burma

The Myanmar military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful protests in Burma has started with unconfirmed reports of several deaths and hundreds of arrests.

The Myanmese military junta is also shutting off communication with the outside world, closing Internet and telephone links, which through blogs and cell phone videos of the latest developments, had been the main source of information of what is happening in Burma to the outsides world.

Malaysia and ASEAN leaders must be in the international forefront to condemn the violent crackdown of monks-led peaceful protests in Burma and even to support suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN and United Nations if there is a repeat of the 1988 bloodbath where thousands were massacred.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said in the United Nations yesterday that Malaysia does not believe in imposing economic sanctions against Myanmar as this will not affect the targeted group but will usually hurt ordinary citizens more.

He said any hard or aggressive action would be counter-productive at this stage.

He said: “We think the best way of resolving the issue is to get the constitutional process on track, to get the reconciliation going.”

It is time for Syed Hamid and all ASEAN leaders to stop such platitudes and respond in a responsible and statemanlike manner to the Burmese crisis, with Burma on the cusp of another 1988 bloodbath. Read the rest of this entry »


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. Read the rest of this entry »


ASEAN govts must warn Myanmar military – another bloodbath ala-1988 completely unacceptable

With the Myanmar military junta threatening a crackdown as some 100,000 demonstrators led by barefoot Buddhist monks staged in Yangon yesterday the country’s largest anti-government protest since a failed democratic uprising nearly 20 years ago, ASEAN governments and leaders cannot continue to be on the sidelines and must move quick and fast.

All the nine ASEAN governments must urgently send a clear and unequivocal message to the Myanmar military junta that a crackdown and bloodbath revisiting the 1988 massacre in Burma is totally unacceptable and incompatible with responsible membership of ASEAN and the United Nations.

A repeat of the 1988 bloodbath with some 3,000 people killed by the military would be an unmitigated disaster for Myanmar and ASEAN, casting a pall on the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore on Nov. 20-21 and plunging the regional organization into its worst crisis in 40 years.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary ASEAN, 2007 should be a year to celebrate another major stride in the development of ASEAN with the adoption of an ASEAN Charter incorporating human rights protection for the people of ASEAN.

A bloodbath in Myanmar will not only smash these high and noble ASEAN hopes into smithereens, but also highlight the fatal mistake ten years ago in admitting Myanmar into ASEAN when the military junta had no intention whatsoever to honour its undertaking to work towards national reconciliation and democratization in the country.

China – and in particular the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 — and India will not be able to escape adverse international repercussions of a bloodbath in Myanmar as they will be blamed for giving support to the Myanmar military junta and turning a blind eye to the bloody crackdown in the country. Read the rest of this entry »


Burma Uprising – Abdullah should articulate ASEAN aspirations for Burma in UN speech on Thursday

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should articulate the aspirations of the ASEAN people for national reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Burma in his United Nations speech on Thursday as any omission on the latest developments in Burma would have rendered his speech quite irrelevant to the region and the world.

Today is the seven straight day that monks have marched in the Burmese capital of Yangon, leading protestors reaching 10,000 on Saturday, 20,000 yesterday and 30,000 today against the military junta over the chronic economic crisis resulting in ever-rising prices of commodities and human rights violations including illegal detentions and mistreatment of political detainees.

There are fears of a repeat of 1988, when the last democracy uprising was crushed by the military and some 3,000 people were killed.

This is the time for ASEAN government leaders, together with the support of China and India, to engage and impress on the Myanmar military junta not to resort to violence but to turn it into an opportunity to resolve the present crisis with the support of all stakeholders, including Nobel Prize laureate Aung Sun Suu Kyi, all political prisoners, the pro-democracy activists and ethnic nationalities, to work out a national reconciliation formula to return Burma to democracy and civilian rule.

While in the United Nations, Abdullah should take the initiative for a mini-ASEAN summit and emergency UN General Assembly debate on Burma.
Read the rest of this entry »