Myanmar under increasing pressure to give up its chairmanship of ASEAN?

Updated On: Jun 14, 2005

The Indonesian House of Representatives is urging the Indonesian government to oppose Myanmar’s leadership of ASEAN next year, and to boycott ASEAN forums under its leadership.  35 out of 48 members of the House Commission I for foreign affairs signed a petition to push the government to step up pressure onMyanmar not to take its turn to lead ASEAN.

Myanmar has been under pressure from the Western countries with regards to the lack of democratic reforms, and the US and EU have already indicated that they would boycott meetings with ASEAN should Myanmar hold the chair.  This, however, is the first time, that ASEAN member states itself have been urged to boycott ASEAN meetings. This perhaps reflects how much the sentiments for Myanmar has changed even within ASEAN after eight years of constructive engagement without any noticeable change in the regime.

Another indication of impatience with the lack of change is a recent remark by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Mr Ong Keng Yong, at the sideline of a business meeting in Bangkok.  In his comment, Mr Ong called on Myanmar to “give us some indication” as to whether they will give up its scheduled chairmanship, “because we need time to plan and organize”.

* ASEAN presses Yangon to decide on chairmanship (The Straits Times, 11 June 2005)

* House ups the ante on Myanmar over ASEAN  (The Jakarta Post, 10 June 2005)