[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Sunday, September 30, 2007

1. Myanmar has become a major issue at this year's UN General Assembly (UNGA). Last year was the unexpected coup in Thailand which deposed Thaksin. This year, it was the brutal crackdown on monks and other demonstrators in Yangon and other Myanmar cities.

2. Months ago, we had scheduled a meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of UNGA to finalize the drafting of the ASEAN Charter. That was successfully done on Thursday. The ten of us then discussed Myanmar with a heavy heart. In the last year and a half, ASEAN had stopped defending Myanmar as a grouping because it was clear that the Myanmar Government preferred to deal with UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, an experienced diplomat from Nigeria.

3. We expressed our views fully and frankly. It was an unpleasant meeting of the ASEAN family when we had to take issue with a member who behaved badly and brought down the reputation of everyone. We were revulsed by the use of violence against unarmed civilians, including automatic weapons. For Buddhist ministers like Thai FM Nitya, violence against monks was simply abhorrent. After an hour, the ministers agreed for me to issue a statement which I did to the international media, flanked by them. That statement is posted on Harold's blogsite.

4. It was good that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took a quick decision to send Gambari to Myanmar. He flew from New York to Singapore where he was issued with a visa to enter the country. Gambari had been there twice before. On both occasions, he was allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi. He is a good man who enjoys the trust of both sides. He is embarked on this mission with the full prestige and moral authority of the UN. We must support him. Without a fresh attempt at national reconciliation of all parties in the country, the future of Myanmar is bleak.

5. China has come under pressure to do more in Myanmar. China does have some influence but it should not be exaggerated. I have no doubt that China has been active behind the scenes to move things forward. ASEAN can issue statements but we don't have much leverage. In the end, it is what the Myanmar people do for themselves that is the most important.

Statement by ASEAN Chair, Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo, New York, 27 September 2007


Anonymous Kevin Chung said...

The future of Myanmar was already bleak when the the election result was voided in 1990.

ASEAN lost it's leverage the moment we allowed Military Dictator on board.

Don't ride the wave and talk high morals when others are risking their lives to do what 'they think is right'. Everybody saw it coming, yet non of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers were willing to rock the boat when the people of Myanmar were 'drowning' for the past 17 yrs. Why now?

Any wise and thinking person know who is the real mastermind behind these protests and their intentions.

I don't see the ASEAN Foreign Ministers playing any part in the equation other than being the mouth piece of the mastermind.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers should just shut up now and remain their
non interference policy.

People die in any revolution and are you so sure that those monks were real monks to begin with?

I could not imagine the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to have such simpleton world views.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 12:04:00 am


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