News / Asia

ASEAN Secretary-General Assesses Burma’s Reforms

ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan speaks to reporters at a briefing held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Myanmar in Rangoon, February 23, 2012.
ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan speaks to reporters at a briefing held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Myanmar in Rangoon, February 23, 2012.

The secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian nations, Surin Pitsuwan, says Burma appears committed to reforms but needs to prove it to meet international expectations. He gave an assessment Friday of Burma’s political progress following a visit there this week.

Surin said he thinks Burma’s leaders are committed to further economic and political reforms as long as they can control the process.

"Just like any government that has been centralized and authoritarian would like to open up, if you don’t want to confront instability and tension and confrontation right away you have to be rather measured about it. And, I think they are determined to do that," he said.

Surin made the comments at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand during a stopover in Bangkok on day three of a four-day visit to Burma.

Political progress

During his visit he met with President Thein Sein and other government leaders who he says recognize the challenges and opportunities of reforming the country.

The ASEAN leader also met for the first time with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy. He says the party’s participation in free and fair elections in April would be an extremely crucial test for international confidence in the reform process.

"Precisely for that reason the international community is waiting for signals from inside whether this is going to be sustained, whether this is going to lead to more opening, or whether this is just a mirage," he said.

Burma is considering allowing ASEAN election observers as they did for the 2010 election that ended overt military rule.

But, even if allowed, Surin acknowledged ASEAN was not the best organization for sharing or monitoring democracy in Burma.

"To be fair, to be frank, to be truthful, the credit is not that A-plus. But, it is a beginning. It is a commitment," he said. "It is a recognition that without some indicators coming from outside, measured from outside, it’s going to be difficult to convince the world that it has made some changes."

Hosting ASEAN meetings

ASEAN’s ten members include developing democracies but also an absolute monarchy, Brunei, and two communist one-party states-Laos and Vietnam.

Aside from Burma, the other members are Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Surin said Burma’s hosting of ASEAN meetings in 2014 would help ensure it does not turn back on reform efforts. But he also noted serious preparations were needed in the country, as known as Myanmar, including improving roads, telecommunications and Internet, sufficient hotel space, and a stable banking and financial system.

"If Myanmar is going to carry out its chairmanship fully, responsibly, effectively, successfully, many many things have to happen within the next two years," he said.

For one thing, Surin said Burma’s largely cash-only finance system would have to go. He said such as system is not adequate to support hosting a year of high-profile economic and political meetings that are the responsibility of the ASEAN chair.



You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More