Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reference: ASEAN leaders adopt charter, Bangkok Post, November 21, 2007

It is reported that the ASEAN summit in Singapore withdrew its invitation to United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambhari when Burma objected (ASEAN leaders adopt charter, Bangkok Post, November 21, 2007). The relationship between Burma and the rest of ASEAN is intimate and well-developed and it is based not only on geography but on a common understanding of cultural, economic, and political equations. It is time for the rest of the world to understand and accept this reality. It is not possible for ASEAN to discipline the Burmese junta or to expel Burma from the organization because that country is a little too much like ASEAN, an organization made up of nations that rank near the bottom in global ratings of political freedoms, human rights, transparency and integrity in government, and the freedom of the press; and up near the top when it comes to things like corruption and the heavy hand of the military in government. The Association does not stand on sufficiently high moral ground to lecture to the Burmese junta on any of these issues. It cannot eject Burma from ASEAN as has been suggested. It would be a dangerous path for this organization to tread as it may end up ejecting most of its other members on the same grounds.

Cha-am Jamal

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