Prospective chief of Southeast Asian bloc expresses hope Myanmar protests will lead to change
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2007 03:44:28 -0700
Prospective chief of Southeast Asian bloc expresses hope Myanmar
protests will lead to change
NEW YORK (AP): The man likely to take over as head of Southeast Asia's
political bloc voiced hope Monday that massive anti-government
protests in Myanmar would lead to "some kind of change."
But Thailand's Surin Pitsuwan, who is expected to take over the 10-
country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Jan. 1
worried that a so-far peaceful campaign involving an estimated 100,000
protesters could turn violent.
"We do hope in ASEAN that things will not get out of hand, will not
become too violent, but would lead to some kind of a congregation,
some kind of change," said Surin, a former foreign minister, speaking
on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly at an event sponsored by
the Asia Foundation.
Anti-government protests have mushroomed since Myanmar's government
sharply raised fuel prices on Aug. 19. Monday's protests, which drew
as many as 100,000 protesters led by barefoot Buddhist monks, was the
largest rally in almost two decades in the country - one of Asia's
Surin said he believed that the current demonstrations could provide
momentum for reform not seen in recent years.
"I think it's different from previous gatherings in the past 10 or 20
years, in the sense that it's being led by an institution that is most
respected in (Myanmar) society," he said, refering to the fact that
the protesters were led by monks who factor significantly in this
deeply Buddhist country.
But Surin cautioned that given the size of the crowd, "it is worrisome
that things could get out of hand."
A number of countries, including ASEAN members, have called on
Myanmar's government to follow through on repeated pledges to
implement democratic reforms.
On Monday, that call was reiterated by the Philippines, with a
spokesman for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo saying that ASEAN
"would like to see further improvement in democracy in Myanmar."
A similar call came from the United Nations, where Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon praised the peaceful nature of the protests and voiced his
hopes that authorities in the country would "seize this opportunity to
engage without delay in dialogue with all the relevant parties to the
national reconciliation process."
The White House also sought to step up pressure on Myanmar,
threatening further sanctions against the regime and those who provide
it with financial aid. President George W. Bush is expected to
announce the sanctions Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly.
Surin said help is needed worldwide to help resolve the situation in
Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.
"We hope the situation will not spiral out of control into a violent
confrontation and hope for encouragement and support from the
international community," Surin said.
Thailand is due next year to begin chairing ASEAN for five years, and
Surin is its chosen leader for the group. ASEAN foreign ministers have
endorsed Thailand's nomination of Surin to become the group's next
secretary-general. ASEAN's heads of state are expected to approve
Surin's nomination at a summit in Singapore in November.
ASEAN's members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. (***)
- Prev by Date: Samart Corp Plc will set up regional wholly owned subsidiary in Hong Kong on the registered capital of US$20 million to oversee the investment on infrastructure in Indo China market
- Next by Date: Information and Communication Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom and Deputy Commerce Minister Oranuj Osatananda did not attend the Cabinet meeting
- Previous by thread: Samart Corp Plc will set up regional wholly owned subsidiary in Hong Kong on the registered capital of US$20 million to oversee the investment on infrastructure in Indo China market
- Next by thread: Information and Communication Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom and Deputy Commerce Minister Oranuj Osatananda did not attend the Cabinet meeting