Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MYANMAR Diary part II

For a long time Myanmar was a pariah state amongst commity of nations after the coup of 1962 led by Gen Ne Win that overthrew U Nu. It was closed to the outside world and it practised its own brand of socialism. The military dictatorship exercised its absolute power n control over the ethnic minorities. All the ethnic minorities suffered not only domination but also all kinds of oppression. The situation is worst for the Rohingya community when in 1982 Ne Win decided to strip their status and citizenship, thus made them stateless. In fact they became a forgotten people that allowed the military junta to commit all kinds of abuses and atrocities against them. When Myanmar was admitted into ASEAN it was with two fold objectives namely to make ASEAN a truly South East Asian regional organisation consisting all the states of South East Asia and to constructively engage Myanmar to eventually be following the ways of other ASEAN nations. ASEAN thought at that time a containment or isolation policy would not make Myanmar change. 

On July 27 1997 Myanmar was admitted into ASEAN and the strongest advocate of this admission was Malaysia under Mahathir. I still remember especially when I was a FM how we were critised and lectured at by our dialogue partners like US, Australia and EU. Malaysia was the strongest defender of Myanmar. This was done because we expected change from Myanmar. We championed the cause of Aung Ann Suu Kyi. Unfortunately Myanmar did not change and was able to hide under ASEAN's principle of non interference. Not many of us knew what was happening inside the country. Finally with the ASEAN Charter Myanmar agreed to transform into a democratic state along the old Indonesian model. This means the military still controls the process and instruments of state by taking off their uniforms and wear civilian clothes. Old habits die hard. 

The old tradition and habits of totalitarianism continue though. ASEAN still protects Myanmar with its policy of non interference eventhough its policy on the Rohingya amounts to human rights abuses and enhanced the business of human trafficking. ASEAN still refuses to reprimand or discuss Human rights abuses in Myanmar in its Agenda. Now that the west has adopted the policy of constructive engagement and with so much investments opportunities and profit to make the international community may accept what is happening inside the country and the persecution of Rohingya as an acceptable norm in the process of democratisation. I hope civil society will take the lead and their efforts to make states behave with a conscience and responsibility continues more vigorously.

FB SHA@21 June 2015

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