Bangkok – “The Lady” turned 60 on June 19 but there was no cause for celebration as Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest for the third consecutive year. Many of her supporters as well as opponents of the ruling junta used the occasion to remind Asean once again that it is time to review its less-than-successful policy of “constructive engagement” with Myanmar.
Mr Asda Jayanama, former Thai ambassador to the United Nations, said that it is time for Asean countries to adopt a collective stand against the military junta since Yangon has absolutely no interest in becoming a “mainstream” Southeast Asian nation. He said Asean had gained nothing but problems since Myanmar joined the grouping.
"Burma never respects Asean's rules and even tried to get Asean to adjust to its own needs. And Asean just let that happen. If we compare Asean to a dog, andBurma as its tail, it seems that the tail is now wagging the dog," Mr Asda said in a speech during a forum at Thammasat University to mark the Nobel Peace Laureate’s birthday.
In an editorial, The Philippine Star said "Asean had gambled that constructive engagement with the junta was the best way to effect reforms in Myanmar".
"That gamble has not paid off."
The newspaper warned that Asean now "risks being tainted with Myanmar's pariah status if Yangon assumes the rotating Asean chair next year as scheduled".
"As Suu Kyi marks a milestone in her life, the junta must be made to understand that it cannot keep fooling the world with empty promises," the Star said.
Despite the strong and loud condemnation issued all around over the military junta’s actions, those who have dealt with the regime doubt that it will make any difference.
As former Asean general-secretary Rudolfo Severino once said: "Threats and deadlines have had no effect on the junta, except hardening their position and forcing them to retreat into isolation."
* Groups: Deny Burma Asean chair (Bangkok Post, June 20)
* Fooling the world (The Philippine Star, June 20)
*Still at the mercy of stubborn general (Bangkok Post, June 18)
* World demands Suu Kyi’s release (The Nation, June 19)