SUSPEND MYANMAR FROM ASEAN NOW

DAP calls on the Malaysian government to initiate the process to suspend Myanmar from ASEAN until democracy is restored.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

What happened to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should be the last straw that should put an end to the membership of Myanmar in ASEAN since 1997, based on the wisful thinking of “constructive engagement” on the part of other ASEAN countries, including Malaysia. Myanmar should now be suspended immediately.

In September 2007, twenty thousand people marched peacefully through the streets of Rangoon demanding freedom for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy, which won a landslide victory in 1990 in Myanmar’s first multi-party elections in 30 years. Myanmar’s “Saffron Revolution” was a testament to the power of peaceful opposition, a sign of strength on the part of the Burmese people who erstwhile had let their voices of dissent remain silent.

The subjugation experienced by a nation ruled by a violent and oppressive military junta was witnessed by the international community, virtually powerless against a ruling power whose extreme restrictions on foreign aid and intervention saw the people of Myanmar suffer explicitly at their hands. Military-run enterprises in Myanmar control key industries, and corruption and grave mismanagement are the traits of the country’s black-market driven economy. Military offensives against insurgents have uprooted many thousands of civilians, who are forced to make their way across land and treacherous sea to face further tyranny as illegal immigrants or unwelcomed asylum seekers in other countries.

It is with great dismay that I read that the leader of Myanmar’s legitimate but non-governing ruling party has been arrested for breaching the conditions of her detention under house arrest, a condition she has endured for 19 years and whose term is due to expire at the end of May.

Mere days before the Nobel Laureate was meant to leave the confines of her house as a free woman, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with fresh allegations of inviting an individual to visit her, and is now facing trial and a new term of detention.

The individual in question is an American who swam across a lake to enter her house and who purportedly stayed for two days. The pro-democracy leader’s lawyers will argue that this man was not invited to her home, meaning her arrest is entirely egregious. The move is a pretext to keep Ms. Suu Kyi detained until the elections in 2010, whose the military’s expected win the ruling generals believe will provide some legitimacy.

LIEW CHIN TONG

malaysiakini.com

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