Saturday, September 29, 2007

Burma in ASEAN

Burma has been with ASEAN for a full ten years. How much has this repressive state contributed to the common good of ASEAN? The nation has been under repression for the past 40 years under the first generation of military dictators. When ASEAN opened the door for Burma in 1997, its members did not specifically hope to act as "agents of change" in the Burmese political stalemate.

Logically speaking, ASEAN itself was vulnerable and plagued by slow progress, with more "don'ts" than "do's," with its notorious non-interference principle, and questions of legitimacy of each member government.

While piggybacking Burma and with no real will to push for political change in Burma, ASEAN kept turning a blind eye to the worsening situation there. ASEAN members' private interests ruled over efforts to bring transformation to Yangon.

For Burma, ASEAN has been a fancy dress to put on so it could look normal. In reality, conditions in Burma do not seem good, with an ongoing civil war, a power struggle between the government and the opposition, and prolonged ethnic insurgencies.

With their leader, Senior General Than Shwe, 73 and few of the other generals aging, it is interesting to note if the next generation of military rulers would be milder and more humane or would they continue the hard stance? Can ASEAN finally get rid of its “dog that does not bark” tag? And one finally question: Would Daw Aung San Suu Kyi be finally released under external pressure?

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