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Asean Affairs  12 May 2011

Myanmar remains “unchanged”

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     12 May 2011

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The Myanmar bid to assume the chairmanship of Asean in 2014 was rebuffed for the time being at the 18th Asean Summit this past weekend in Jakarta with a call for the country to continue “democratic reform.”

Now it seems that Asean was on target as Myanmar’s recently released opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has told German broadcaster DW-TV and students at the Hertie School of Management in Berlin in a Tuesday phone-in that no "meaningful change" has taken place since Myanmar's first elections in 20 years in November.

"I know there have been elections but the government that has taken over since the elections are the same as those who were in place before the elections ... We are still waiting to see whether there has been real change, " she said.

"Until political prisoners have been released, and until we are all allowed to take part in the political process in the country, I do not think we can call it real change," Suu Kyi continued. She also said that Myanmar being given the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2014, as the grouping is considering, "would not help democracy in Burma in any way".

"But if they were to attach conditions to the fact of Burma taking over in 2014, it could help. If they were for example to say that certain changes would be necessary before they were prepared to agree ... it could help," she said.

A final decision on Myanmar’s Asean chairmanship bid is not likely until the end of the year. Current Asean chairman Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa is to make a fact-finding trip to Myanmar in the next few weeks to gather information for Asean.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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