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Cambodian Admission exposes ASEAN H

Subject: Cambodian Admission exposes ASEAN Hypocrisy


11th July 1997

Cambodian Admission exposes ASEAN Hypocrisy

The postponement of Cambodia's admission into ASEAN today finally exposes
the hypocritical rhetoric and practices of ASEAN. 

1.  The question of "constructive engagement".

The recent event in Cambodia indicates the failure of ASEAN diplomatic
efforts of the last 20 years. If ASEAN had failed to convince Cambodia
political forces to co-exist peacefully, how would the  "constructive
engagement" with Burma work? 

We once heard ASEAN leaders say that they will deal with the government of
Burma regardless of whoever is in power. We also remember ASEAN foreign
ministers unanimously say that only by "engaging", one can change the
situation. Why is there now a change of position? Why is ASEAN not
"engaging" with Cambodia?

2.  The question of being "against the use of military forces to take power".

ASEAN had stated that it is due to the use of military forces in Cambodia
that they are postponing its membership. 

The truth is  that ASEAN has NEVER insisted on the criteria that a
member-government should be democratic nor does it abide by the criteria of
non-usage of violence in maintaining power. 

Afterall we just have to cite examples -- the violent military takeover in
Burma; the brutal annexation of East Timor and the massacre of one-third of
its population by the Indonesian military-government; the sufferings of the
Filipino people under Marcos dictatorship; and the massacre of hundreds of
Thais by the Thai military in 1992. 

Were any of the ASEAN members questioned, their membership reviewed or
suspended? No. 

In fact, for example, there had been a series of military coups in Thailand,
but all the coup leaders enjoyed recognition by other member states of
ASEAN. Furthermore this has not stopped the present admission of Burma into

This suggests that ASEAN has double-standards when dealing with issues in
the region. 

3.  The question of "non-interference"

While ASEAN countries repeatedly state that they would not interfere in the
internal affairs of another country, such as on the dismal human rights
abuses of the Burmese and East Timorese people; in this case it has already
done so by not recognising Hun Sen's government. By this action, ASEAN has
indirectly suggested that it supports a coalition-led government or a
government-led by Prince Ranariddh, over Hun Sen's Cambodia People's Party. 

This indicates that ASEAN has 'favourites'; just as it will support the
military dictatorship of SLORC in Burma over the elected government of Aung
San Suu Kyi. 

All the above are due to one fundamental basis -- because ASEAN places
economic priority over the values of human rights and democracy. If ASEAN
were to stand up as a credible regional grouping in the world, it has to
start developing a consistent human right standard in its diplomatic dealings. 

Released by: 
Elizabeth Wong

Suara Rakyat Malaysia - SUARAM
(Voice of the Malaysian People)
add: 11, Jalan 1A/71E, Jalan Carey, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor,Malaysia
tel: 60-3-7943525
fax: 60-3-7943526
email: wkpeng@xxxxxxxxxxxx