November 20, 2007
Asean charter not meant to handle certain issues, says Syed Hamid
The Asean Charter, to be signed by leaders of Asean on Tuesday, is a long-term document and not meant to handle certain issues such as the current situation in Myanmar, Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said."As we embark on having a charter of our own, I don't think we would like the charter to be understood that it is meant to handle certain issues."The charter is intended to be a long-term document to enable us to crystallise our intention to create an Asean community by 2015," he told reporters here on arrival to attend the 13th Asean Summit and related summits from today through Thursday.
Asean leaders will sign the 31-page charter on Tuesday, transforming Asean from a loose regional grouping into a rule-based entity.Rights watch groups criticised the charter for not spelling out punitive measures against non-compliant members despite having provisions for an Asean human rights body.Syed Hamid defended the charter, saying: "The fact is, when we look back, nobody would have thought that Asean would come up with a charter. Of course certain things are not there which we can do administratively, like the question of fundings.""Even mentioning about a human rights body in the charter was not an easy task, but we now have an enabling provision, at least it allows us to draw terms of referrence. So we are moving correctly," he said.
The charter would be presented to the foreign ministers tomorrow. Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will arrive tomorrow morning to attend the summit and related meetings.In the afternoon, he is scheduled to attend the fourth Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippine East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) meeting followed by the third Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) meeting before attending an informal working dinner in the evening.
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