Myanmar’s military government has “strongly rejected” a statement by the Association of Southeast Asian nations condemning the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, state media said Monday.
Myanmar accused Thailand, which issued the statement one week ago as the rotating chairman of the 10-member bloc, of interfering in its internal affairs, the New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.
“This statement issued by the alternate ASEAN chairman — which is not in conformity with ASEAN practice, incorrect in facts, interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar — is strongly rejected by Myanmar,” it said.
“It is sadly noted that the alternate ASEAN chairman failed to preserve the dignity of ASEAN, the dignity of Myanmar and the dignity of Thailand,” said the statement, which was also carried on state-run television and radio.
The ASEAN statement expressed “grave concern” over the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi, a rare step by the group which hardly ever speaks out on the domestic political issues of its members, including Myanmar.
It is quite rare to hear a public rebuttal from the Myanmar government against ASEAN. The fact that they have taken this step indicates that they have been quite stung by ASEAN’s statement. At least is shows that the generals are not deaf to ASEAN.
This should be an encouragement to ASEAN members, particularly the founding members (including Singapore) that they should continue issuing forceful statements against the military junta. It may not bring their downfall, but it could certainly rankle them, because it sends a signal that they can no longer rely on their neighbours to mollycoddle them by acquiescing to their revolting behaviour.