ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Philippine President calls for rewarding Myanmar
5 April 2012
"We really have to show the people who are reforming in Myanmar that the road they chose is the right road. There has to be a reward,” Aquino told reporters.
The president was equally elated at prodemocracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s winning a seat in parliament for the first time in the historic April 1 by-elections that all Asean leaders have hailed.
"We want to minimise the disruptions. We want to accelerate that phase of progress for them that shows them, ‘Wow, we should have done this 10 years ago. We would have already achieved x amount of progress by now,’” he said.
At the end of a two-day summit here yesterday, leaders of the 10-member Asean called for Western countries, including the European Union, to lift punitive sanctions imposed on Myanmar now that it has embraced democratic reforms.
Flurry of praise
The appeal for sanctions to be lifted would first be relayed to the EU, which punished formerly military-ruled Myanmar for massive human rights violations, according to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Until recently, Myanmar was the black sheep of Asean, with other member countries repeatedly reprimanding it for its failure to move forward on a promised roadmap to democracy, including the freeing of Suu Kyi from years of house arrest.
"This is a tremendous change in the dynamics nowadays,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said. “Normally the Myanmar issue is discussed as a problem but now it’s seen as very much different.”
Evidence of democratisation
"That tells us maybe we should be helping them, share our experiences, share our resources, share our knowledge, ease their transition into that and make that democracy work for them,” he said.
By doing so, Myanmar “becomes more inclusive” and that would result in “more stability for the benefit of all,” he said.
Aquino said he had the chance to speak to the Burmese president during the summit to offer his suggestions. He said he found Thein Sein, though much older than him, “to be very patient” and ready to share “their perspective”.
The Burmese president said things have “calmed down” in his country from the situation before in which there was so much conflict, he said.
No advice for Suu Kyi
Asked what advice he could give her, the president said he did not need to give her any advice as “I think she did the right thing from the start”.
"I think the leveling of expectations should be addressed to the followers so that they don’t lose hope, you know, the hope that they are headed to something better,” Aquino said.
The weekend vote will fill just 45 vacant seats in the country’s 664-seat Parliament but took on a historic significance because of Suu Kyi’s presence. After two decades as a political prisoner, Suu Kyi won a victory that marked a turn in her political career and for the country as it emerges from a half-century of military rule.
The Election Commission confirmed late Tuesday that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) took 43 seats, losing only in distant Shan state to an ethnic Shan party candidate. In one constituency, the NLD candidate was disqualified before the polls and the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party won.
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