Let's hear it for the boys! The spineless men's club that is ASEAN has resisted international pressure to take a strong position on Myanmar - that is, except the Philippines. President Gloria Arroyo has just announced that unless some real demonstration of change can be verified, the Philippines is unlikely to ratify the ASEAN charter. Arroyo further states, "If Myanmar signs the charter, it is committed to returning to the path of democracy and releasing Aung San Suu Kyi." She is alone in taking a definitive stand on Myanmar , and ironically, alone in acting to defend the very bylaws of the charter itself and its explicit call for democratic reform among its member nations. As sexist as this is going to sound, is the female leadership within ASEAN the ones with balls? Really.
Just weeks ago, it all but spelled doom for any ASEAN pressure on Myanmar. ASEAN rejected a boycott of the annual Burmese gemstone trade conference while gently dismissing Myanmar as a "troubled child". ASEAN's Secretary General, Ong Ken Yong invokes the simplicity of "asian values" by stating "Myanmar is part of our family, and it is the principle involved. If you have a troubled child, do you say, 'Go out of the house, I don't want to talk to you?'" Vietnam's new ceremonial seat on the UN Security Council is backed by its rock solid track record with Myanmar of looking the other way (dare it look upon itself).
"(Myanmar) PM Thein Sein took this occasion to congratulate Viet Nam on its election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the 2008-09 term. (Vietnam) PM Dung thanked Myanmar for its enthusiastic support for Viet Nam's run for the UN Security Council post and said he hoped Myanmar will continue cooperating with Viet Nam in activities at the UN." - Vietnam Net Bridge
Myanmar's generals have also nothing to fear for either west or east, as neighboring Thailand and Bangladesh are themselves under rule by military juntas. China to the north and India to the south remain among its largest trade partners.
Alone is the Philippines and I hope they Arroyo can maintain the courage to stand up to the frat party that is the ASEAN leadership and to press upon them that ASEAN's legitimacy demands that they follow the bylaws of very charter they so eagerly want to ratify.
+ ASEAN. Statement by Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations, on Behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), at the Security Council lOpen Debate on "The Role of Regional and Sub-Regional Organisations in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security", Security Council Chamber, 6 November 2007
+ BBC. Burma warned over ASEAN charter.
+ Vietnam Net Bridge. Myanmar PM to visit Vietnam to boost cooperation. November 9, 2007.
+ Vietnam Net Bridge. PM emphasizes consolidating ties with Myanmar. November 10, 2007.
+ International Herald Tribune. Myanmar casts shadow over Asean talks
Posted by on November 20, 2007 4:07 AM | Permalink