[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
Preparations for the Membership of
Subject: Preparations for the Membership of Myanmar.
Preparations for the Membership of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar
1. This information paper briefly describes ASEAN's relations with
Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and examines how far each of them has gone in
preparing for membership in ASEAN.
2. Laos became an ASEAN Observer at the 25th AMM in Manila in July 1992.
At the 28th AMM in Bandar Seri Begawan, the Lao Foreign Minister
announced that he wished to see Laos join ASEAN in 1997. This desire was
stated in Laos' letter of application for membership in ASEAN dated 15
3. In 1995, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos set up an ASEAN
Division in its Department of Asia-Pacific and Africa. In early 1996, the
Division was upgraded and a Director-General, Mr. Somphet Khousakoun,
appointed. Laos also appointed Mrs.Khempheng Pholsena, Vice-Minister
of the Prime Minister's Office, SEOM Leader for Laos.
4. Responding to an invitation from the Lao Foreign Minister, the ASC
agreed that the Director-General of Indonesia's ASEAN Department,
representing the Chairman of the 29th ASC, would lead a fact-finding team
to Laos from 11-14 February 1996. The team leader presented the "Road Map
towards Membership in ASEAN" in a meeting with senior Lao officials. The
team also requested Laos to consider doing an urgent study on her immediate
requirements for membership arising from her ongoing preparations to join
ASEAN, and to present the findings of the study to ASEAN as soon as
5. The ASC established a Working Group on the Membership of Cambodia and
Laos to look into all issues under the ASC's purview relating to
preparations for and by these two prospective members to join ASEAN. The
Working Group is chaired by the Deputy Secretary- General of ASEAN, Mr.
Mahadi Haji Wasli. On 17 July 1996, the Working Group held
consultations with the Director-General of the ASEAN Department of Laos
6. A fact-finding team of ASEAN Senior Economic Officials (SEOM) visited
Vientiane from 30 June - 2 July 1996. On 14 September 1996, the ASEAN
Economic Ministers held consultations with the Commerce Minister of Laos
in Jakarta on preparations for Laos' participation in the AFTA process
and other economic cooperation arrangements in ASEAN.
7. The ASEAN Secretariat trained seven Lao officials in attachment
programmes ranging from 3-5 weeks with funds from the UNDP. In addition,
Secretariat staff also conducted intensive briefings on ASEAN affairs and
AFTA in Vientiane and held technical discussions with Lao officials on
establishing an E-mail link to facilitate information exchange with the
8. Cambodia was accorded ASEAN Observer status at the 28th AMM in Bandar
Seri Begawan in July 1995. The Cambodian Foreign Minister applied for
ASEAN membership for Cambodia in his application letter dated 23 March
1996. Like Laos, Cambodia also wishes to join ASEAN in 1997.
9. Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
(FA&IC) set up an ASEAN Department headed by Mrs. You Ay early this year.
This was followed by the appointment of Dr. Aun Porn Moniroth, Policy
Planner of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and Director of Cabinet
of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, as Cambodia's SEOM Leader.
10. The ASC's fact-finding team visited Cambodia from 7-11 February 1996.
The leader of the team presented the "Road Map towards Membership in ASEAN"
to a large gathering of Ministers and senior officials from several
ministries. As a follow-up to the visit, the ASC's Working Group on
the Membership of Cambodia and Laos held consultations with the
Director-General of the ASEAN Department of Cambodia in Jakarta on 17
11. A SEOM fact-finding team visited Phnom Penh from 27-30 June 1996. The
AEM also held consultations with the Minister of Economy and Finance in
Jakarta on 14 September 1996 on preparations for Cambodia's participation
in the AFTA process and other economic cooperation arrangements in ASEAN.
12. Seven Cambodian officials, funded by UNDP, underwent training at the
ASEAN Secretariat in attachment programmes ranging from 2-4 weeks.
Secretariat staff also conducted intensive briefing sessions on ASEAN
affairs and AFTA in Phnom Penh and conducted technical discussions with
Cambodian officials on establishing an E-mail link facilitating the
exchange of information between Cambodia and the ASEAN Secretariat.
13. The Foreign Minister of Myanmar attended the 28th AMM in Bandar Seri
Begawan as a Guest of the Host Government. He attended the 27th AMM in
Bangkok in 1994 in the same capacity. During the 28th AMM, Myanmar
acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and
applied for Observer status in ASEAN. Myanmar also extended an
invitation to the Secretary-General of ASEAN to visit the country.
Myanmar requested his assistance in familiarizing Myanmar officials with
ASEAN by training them at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta and also by
sending Secretariat staff to brief them in Yangon.
14. The Head of Government of Myanmar joined the Heads of Government of
Laos and Cambodia in a meeting with the ASEAN Heads of Government during
the Fifth ASEAN Summit in Bangkok on 15 December 1995. He expressed the
hope that Myanmar would be accorded Observer status in ASEAN at the
forthcoming 29th AMM in Indonesia in 1996.
15. At the 29th AMM, Myanmar was accorded Observer status in ASEAN. The
Foreign Minister of Myanmar held consultations with ASEAN and
participated in the ASEAN Regional Forum for the first time.
16. On 12 August 1996, the Foreign Minister of Myanmar submitted his
country's application for membership in ASEAN. He has also expressed his
wish for his country to join ASEAN by 1997, along with Cambodia and Laos.
17. The ASC has extended the mandate of its Working Group on the
Membership of Cambodia and Laos to include the membership of Myanmar.
18. The Secretary-General visited Myanmar from 2-9 November 1996.
Membership in ASEAN
19. The ASEAN Heads of Government stated in the Bangkok Declaration of
1995 that "ASEAN shall work towards the speedy realisation of an ASEAN
comprising all Southeast Asian countries as it enters the 21st century; ..."
20. ASEAN membership is open to all countries in Southeast Asia
subscribing to ASEAN's aims, principles and purposes. The ASEAN Founding
Fathers held out a vision of all countries in Southeast Asia cooperating
for common benefit under the ASEAN roof when they set up the Association
on 8 August 1967.
21. On 7 January 1984, Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN and became its
sixth member. On 28 July 1995, Vietnam followed suit, becoming the
seventh member of ASEAN.
22. One of the criteria for membership is that a prospective member must
agree to subscribe or accede to all the treaties, declarations and
agreements in ASEAN, starting with those outlined in the ASEAN (Bangkok)
Declaration of 8 August 1967 and those elaborated and developed in various
subsequent treaties, declarations and agreements of ASEAN. One common
concern that must be addressed through negotiations is the ability of a
prospective member to participate in AFTA and all other economic
23. One important means of orientation for a prospective member is its
attendance at ASEAN meetings and participation in cooperation projects.
Having been accorded Observer status in ASEAN, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar
are invited to the annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting where their Foreign
Ministers hold separate consultative sessions with ASEAN Foreign Ministers.
The Observer countries can send observers to attend the meetings of
ASEAN's functional committees. They may also request to participate in
particular on-going projects on a case-by-case basis, subject to approval
of the ASC and the availability of funding support.
24. The Heads of Government of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are scheduled
to visit the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on the morning of 30 November
1996 for a special briefing by the Secretary-General of ASEAN.
(Last update on 27 November 1996)