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News on Indian paper 22/7/96
Myanmar Planning Presidential Form of Govt.
The Hindu, Monday, July 22, 1996.
>From V. Jayanth
Myanmar's Foreign Minister, Mr Ohn Gyaw, today
informed his ASEAN counterparts that his country was
planning a Presidential system of Government, with two
Houses of Parliament and an independent judiciary.
In a consultative meeting as an observer, Mr Ohn Gyaw
explained the steps taken by the military regime towards
He said the National Convention was now deliberating on
important chapters dealing with legislature, executive and
the judiciary, in its exercise to finalise a new constitution.
Each region and State of the Union of Myanmar would have
its own legislative Assemblies and a region or State
Government headed by a Chief Minister. The question of
sharing power and obligations would be discussed and
decided by the convention at its next section.
The Foreign Minister said under the recently concluded
Four-Year Plan, Myanmar recorded an average annual
growth of 8.2 per cent, surpassing the earlier target of 5.1
per cent. A new Five-Year plan had been launched to aim
at a six per cent per annum growth.
He south the cooperation form ASEAN countries for
Myanmar to integrate with the grouping as early as possible
and hinted that it would be ready earlier than expected. The
recent expectation was 1998, according to some official.
Speaking to later to presspersons, Philippines' Foreign
Secretary, Mr Domingo Saizon, who chaired the meeting,
explained that now that Myanmar was "inside house and
part of family", ASEAN could speak in whispers. Some
Western countries, he said, were shouting loud, only to be
heart. "But when you are speaking inside the house, you
need not shout. You can talk in whispers".
Mr Saizon said Myanmar explained that nearly 75 per cent of
the work on the Constitution was complete and the ASEAN
wanted them to complete the process soon.
Asked if the ASEAN or the Philippines would negotiate on
the Myanmar problem, he drew a clear cline. He said Manila
was diplomatically in touch with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi. But
no country could negotiate or intercede on behalf of any
individual or party. It was for the NLD to negotiate on its
own behalf and the ASEAN should not interfere in internal
issue. But the stressed on "national reconciliation", which
could also include with Ms Suu Kyi. He preferred not to
Mr Saizon said "We are optimists that the Government of
Myanmar will persist in the a dialogue as the most effective
manner of resolving internal differences".
At his concluding press conference, Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Mr. Ali
Alatas said the media had played up the Myanmar issue as a build up to
this meeting. He agreed that the U.S. and Europe had different view and
there were occasions the ASEAN did not see eye-to-eye
"We have been implementing our policy of constructive engagement. It does
not mean we will not listen to their views. We have to see if it is only
an exchange of views or they have some proposals to make".
The Thai Foreign Minister, Mr. Amnuay Viravar echoed similar views and
asked "`Who is to make a judgment?" He saw nothing wrong with the ASEAN
policy and said dialogue must continue.
ASEAN calls for expending cooperation
The Hindu, Monday, July 22, 1996.
JAKARTA, July 21.
South East Asian countries have called for a regional code
of conduct to help manage overlapping claims in the China
Sea, where Chinese territorial claim conflict with other
States and create a potential flashpoint.
The issue is a matter of longdstanding concern to the
Association or South East Asia Nations (ASEAN), as
several members have claims to all or parts of two clusters
of islands also claimed by China. Beijing has fueled regional
worries by recently making new claims to a group called the
In a joint communique, issued at the conclusion of two days
of talks among Foreign Ministers in the Indonesian capital
Jakarta today, the ASEAN members said: several
outstanding issues remain a major concern.
They endorsed the idea of concluding a regional code of
conduct in the South China Sea which will lay the
foundation for long-term stability in the region and foster
understanding among claimant countries.
The statement, which did not mention China by name, also
stressed the importance of maintaining freedom of
navigation and aviation in the area, which encompasses several
key transportation routes. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the
Philippines have overlapping claims with China for all or part
of the Spartley and Paracel Islands. The seabased near the
island is though to be rich petroleum.
China ,along with Russia and India was made a full dialogue
partner with ASEAN today, and all three will join over half
a dozen other nations in talk after the Foreign Ministers'
The ASEAN Region Forum[ARF] a one day meeting
devoted to security issue , will be held tomorrow among the
ASEAN, the U.S, the European Union, Japan, Australia,
New Zealand South Korea, Russia, India and China.
Without any regional security arrangement, the forum is
considered an important beginning for developing some
multilateral architecture for preventing conflict in the
economically dynamic area. But today it is far from playing
a mediating role and instead members are focusing on a
more modest agenda of confidence-building measure within
the region though defence exchanges and greater
Although it was one of original 17 countries to establish the
ARF in 1994, China has tried to limit the scope of its
debates. Beijing still maintains its resistance to allowing
territorial disputes to become multilateral issues.
In April, China's ministry insisted that under no circumstance
should the ARF use to exert pressure on other countries or to
intervene in specific regional issues.
Beijing has said it is willing to resolve competing claims
from Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei over the
Spartleys and Parasels in accordance with regional
international law. China has always maintained the issues
should be settled in bilateral talks.
Fresh concerns were raised in May when Beijing, for the
first time, drew baselines around the Paracels which allow
China to assert rights to a 200- mile Exclusive Economic
Zone [EEZ] around the islands.
The move prompted protects from Vietnam, the Philippines
and Indonesia. The ASEAN officials in Jakarta say they will
be seeking a clarification of the issue when they collectively
meet with Chinese delegation leaded by the Foreign
Minister, Mr. Qian Qichen, earlier next week.
Myanmar, which was granted observer status with ASEAN
yesterday, will also be talking part for the first time in the
Consistent with ASEAN's policy of constructive
engagement, the decision was also motivated by the group's
concern that further isolating the military regime in
Myanmar would make it more depended on China, which is
keen to extend its strategic reach into the India ocean say
analysts and diplomats.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr. Ali Alatas said he
hoped Myanmar would soon become a full ASEAN
member. The Minister approved applications by Cambodia and Laos to become
members next year.
The 29th Foreign Minister meeting also rejected bits to
bring labour and human rights issued into world trade law.
They said the first Ministerial meeting of the world trade
organizations meetings[WTO] in December in Singapore
should be confined to trade issue as such.
The ASEAN encouraged Myanmar to take on full membership, along with
Cambodia and Laos, so their
ASEAN family _ "can become a group of 10 " by end of the century.
"ASEAN 10" is a long-held goal of the 29 year-old
organization , which at present groups Indonesia, Malaysia,
Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The Philippines Foreign Minister Mr. Domingo Siazon Jr.
said "The ASEAN and Myanmar have enjoyed a special
kinship based on just on our geographic proximity, but on a
common purpose, that is, region development, peace and
The ASEAN said it would review parts of a treaty that
declare South East Asia free of nuclear weapons, AP adds.
China and the U.S have objected on strategic grounds to
clauses in the treaty ,which bands the use manufacture and
stockpiling of nuclear weapons in ASEAN land and sea
The tiny archipelago is clamed by China, Taiwan and
Vietnam and in part by Malaysia, the Philippines and
ASEAN sends Asian message to West
The Hindu, Monday, July 22, 1996.
>From F. J. Khergamvala
Tokyo, July 21: The broad message that just-concluded ministerial meeting
of the Association of South East Asian nations (ASEAN ) has sent tot the
US , Canada and Europe is not just an Asian missive but a document that
reflects an Asian consensus. The Asian, East Asia and Asia as a whole
this side of Iran has avoided falling into the abyss that West Asia now
finds itself in.
Rather than going into details on each of the areas of agreement reached
by the seven-ASEAN members in Jakarta it is significant to mention the
vast gulf that separates the handling of Myanmar by the west on one hand
and Asia on the other. Plainly, on Myanmar, on the proposed Multilateral
investment Agreement and on the effort by some western nations to inject
non-trade issues into the coming meeting of the World Trade Organization
(WTO) the ASEAN has seen through the strategy of "split them," so
effectively employed in the Arab world.
AS perceived in this part of the world the US has a calculated design of
trying to kill or prevent any one country or groups of countries from
emerging as a power in East Asia and Pacific, Japan too shares the
sentiment but as is its won't, it often peeps from behind the stars and
stripes while nimbly avoiding direct identification on the issues that
ASEAN disagrees with the US. With its clout stemming from a market of 425
millions people whose average annual growth last year was 7.63 per cent
and whose trade with the rest of the world is now roughly $ 550 billions
worth, the ASEAN has shown itself able to translate this into a strong
unified defense of its interests.
In Japan there is certainly a strong public sentiment against the
handling of the opposition National League for Democracy in Myanmar by
that country's illegal military junta that rules it. But, from the time
that the US threatened to impose sanctions against China in February last
year o copy right infringements, Japanese officials have privately said
that East Asia as a whole had decided to tell the US of the strong
disagreement at the manner in which the dispute was sought to be
resolved. Subsequently, during the controversy last March in the Taiwan
Straits during the election in Taiwan, East Asia sent a similar but
confused message. On one hand it separated and rights and wrongs of the
issue from how the rest of East Asia would react but on the other it also
welcome a show of US stick. The message was that may be right bit is on
This East Asian and Asian view that crystallized in relation to Sino-US
relation is mirrored in a strange way in the ASEAN' welcome of Myanmar
immediately as an observer and by 1998 the latest as a full member.
Paradoxically, it is China that should be the wholeheartedly greet
Myanmar's admission to the ASEAN. Beijing may not lose from this but it
had the most to gain had the ASEAN subscribed to the US and European led
sanctions or ostracisation ideas.
There is a clear conflict of the moral against the real political and
economic interests involved in the treatment of Myanmar. Morally there
can be little doubt that Myanmar deserves the strongest censure,
especially when viewed against the fact that it exactly reflects the
Haiti situation where the United Nations helped restore an elected
government to power. Indeed, it is India that should also feel awkward
that having awarded the country's most prestigious peace prize on Aung
San Suu Kyi , it was the Prime Minister who stayed away from the
One of the strongest political reasons for the military junta being
blessed with such recognition is that its isolation would have certainly
driven Myanmar into China's lap, an eventuality that conflicts with one
of the ASEAN' aims that China should be engaged yet balanced by other
regional powers such as India. Economically, the ASEAN nations now
getting richer, consequently with the higher wages threatening their
competitiveness can ill-afford to ignore the low wage manufacturing
potential and the 130 millions strong market provided by Vietnam,
Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
The West, notably the US and West Europe have themselves been unable to
distinguish the moral from their own political and economic interests.
For one thing, France and the United Kingdom ( the home of Ms. Aung San
Suu Kyi's husband ) are the West's largest investors in Myanmar's total
inflow of $ 3.3 billions in foreign direct investment. This year Myanmar
expects an inflow of $ 1.5 billions. The US has its own oil companies
involved there and if anything it is the students in the United States
not the government who are crusaders for democracy in Myanmar.
Equally relevant is the flexible philosophical underpinning behind US
policy in East Asia. Every single ASEAN Leader was deserving of a visit
to the White House during the cold war era despite the fact that they (
expect Malaysia to some degree ) could only be classified as despots, MR.
George Bush, then Vice-president celebrated remark "Mr. Marcos (Ferdinand
of the Philippines ) we love your style of democracy" is too recent to
forget. Further, the ASEAN is right to wonder what distinguishes the US
and the West's treatment of Myanmar and its kid glove handling of China.
The welcome, accorded to Myanmar also meets the ASEAN's desire to bring
all of South East Asia under its umbrella and speak with a collective
voice at world councils. Effectively, the Indonesian President, Mr.
Suharto, sounded a warning on another matter where the US and France are
seeking to split the grouping. On the injection of labour-related issue
into the WTO. Commonly known as "social clause" or the "social chapter",
the effort aimed at increasing their own trade competitiveness at the
expense of Asian Nations would have the same divisive impact should the
ASEAN, India, China and Japan bend under US pressure.
The ASEAN has also resisted the European's effort to use the inaugural
meeting of the WTO in Singapore next December to push the proposal fro a
Multilateral Investment Agreement that is heavily loaded in fovour of net
investor nations. At the same time The ASEAN has responded flexibly where
its own interests are involved, such as the willingness to compromise on
the South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty where the US, which
is really the ultimate guarantor for peace here, was unhappy at some
11 Burmese refugees die of malaria
The Asian Age, Monday, July 22,1996.
Mae Hong Son [Thailand], July 21: At last 11 Kareanni
refugees who fled fighting in Burma have died from
malaria in the past two weeks while thousands of refugees
are suffering from the disease, officials said on Sunday.
A relief worker said on Sunday that 11 Kareanni refugees
who had been living in two jungle camps in Baan Naisoy of
Mae Hong Son province had died from malaria while nearly
2,000 others are suffering from the disease. There are 8,527
Kareanni living in the camp, relief workers said.[Reuter]
Observer status for Myanmar hailed by group
The Asian Age, Monday, July 22, 1996.
Jakarta July 21: ASEAN on Saturday had welcomed
Myanmar as an observer at the annual ministerial level
meeting of the seven-nation South East grouping. The
Association of South East Asia Nations has rejected
western calls for sanctions over the confrontation between
Myanmar's military rulers and pro-democracy activists.
Indonesia Foreign Minister Ali Altas told Myanmar
foreigner minister Ohn Gyaw at the 15 minute ceremony he
wanted to "extend a most cordial welcome " to Myanmar.
"It is my hope, which is shared by all members of ASEAN,
we shall be welcoming Myanmar again, not as an observer
but as a full member of ASEAN" Mr. Alatas said.
Mr. Ohn Gyaw thanked the ASEAN states _ Indonesia,
Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines Vietnam and
Brunei and reaffirmed Myanmar's commitments to ASEAN
principals of respecting sovereignty and non-interference in
the internal policies of the other nations.
All seven Asean foreign ministers and Asean secretary-
general Ajit Singh attended the ceremony, which followed
the formal opening of the ministerial conference by
Indonesian president Suharto.
Indonesian president Suharto in his opening address asked
Asean foreign minister to work together to prevent World
Trade Organization from taking up non economic matters
Some developed countries have proposed that the WTO's
inaugural ministerial meeting in Singapore in December
should consider broadening its work to include issue such as
labour standards corruption, multilateral, investment rulers
and competition policy.
"ASEAN countries need to consolidate their common
position against WTO taking up non trade issues," Mr.
Suharto said. Indonesia foreign minister Ali Alatas said the
move brought closer to relaisation the dream of the three-
decade-old group's founders that one day all 10 nation of
southeast Asia will fall under the Asian umbrella. Sean's
move has been frowned upon by western countries that
would prefer to see that country's military government kept
at arm's length internationally until it relaxes its iron grip on
power and improves its dismal human rights record.
Asking members to close ranks in advance of the WTO
meeting Mr Suharto said Asean "must express concern over
the effort of some developed countries to side-track the
deliberations. So that the focus will be on matters
extraneous to trade." Such efforts will not only denigrate
the developing countries, but will also debilitate the WTO
itself, Mr Suharto is reported to have said. (Reuter)