News / Asia

Former Pariah State Burma Takes Over ASEAN Chair

Burma's President Thein Sein (L), shakes hands with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah after receiving the ASEAN Gavel during the Closing Ceremony of the 23rd ASEAN Summit, Bandar Seri Begawan, Oct. 10, 2013.
Burma's President Thein Sein (L), shakes hands with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah after receiving the ASEAN Gavel during the Closing Ceremony of the 23rd ASEAN Summit, Bandar Seri Begawan, Oct. 10, 2013.
VOA News
Former pariah state Burma has taken another step in normalizing its international standing by taking over the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

At a ceremony in Brunei Thursday, Burmese President Thein Sein accepted the gavel and the responsibility to host more than 1,100 meetings in the next year.

Zaw Htay, a government spokesman in Rangoon said his country has been preparing for two years and has gotten a lot of help from its regional neighbors.

"The Sasakawa Foundation of Japan has given us financial and technical assistance, and some other countries like Singapore and South Korea have also helped us," said Htay. "With Chinese assistance, we are building a state guest house in Nepyitaw [the capital] to accommodate all the visiting heads of states. It is big enough to accommodate all the state guests together," he said.

The chairmanship follows political reforms that have led to the lifting of most international sanctions. Thein Sein's government has won praise for freeing hundreds of political prisoners, lifting censorship laws and holding elections in which many opposition members won seats in parliament.

However, the ASEAN chairmanship is being criticized by some who say the country has not done enough, pointing to continuing sectarian violence against Muslims and the country's remaining political prisoners.  

Activist Aung Thu Nyein says the ASEAN chairmanship will shine a much needed spotlight on Burma's human rights record.

"There will be many human rights organizations and civil societies from various countries coming to this country during that moment," said Aung. "There will be discussions and observations about our country's situations. I therefore think the Myanmar National Human Right Commission should be more proactive so as to enhance our human rights situation," he said.

Burma, which joined ASEAN in 1997, was passed over for the chairmanship in 2006.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid