Jun 17, 2009

Thai Prime Minister:Suu Kyi’s detention affects Asean’s credibility

If the junta fails to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s (Asean) credibility will be “affected inevitably,” Thai Prime Minster Abhisit Vejajjiva told The Far Eastern Economic Review recently.

During the Far Eastern Economic View’s interview published on Tuesday, 16 June, Abhisit, who is now chairman of Asean, said Burma’s political process will have to be inclusive to gain the acceptability and respectability of the international community.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, center, is surrounded by security guards. (Photo: AP)

However, the Thai PM said the Burma issue is the responsibility of the international community and not just Asean.

“I think it would be unfair to single out Asean and I think the whole international community puts in an effort and if its not succeeding, why single out Asean?” he said.

“On the contrary, we think that Asean has helped to facilitate possible channels and processes by which the situation there can be resolved and we’ll continue to do that,” he said, adding that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would also play a role in the issue.

Commenting on Burma’s membership with Asean, Abhisit said Asean did not want to isolate or alienate the Burmese military further.

“I doubt that that would make the situation better now,” Abhisit said, stating that it would be wrong to say it was the fault of Asean that things were not going as well as people would like.

“We accept our responsibility and we’re doing what we can,” he said.

Answering a question about how confident Asean’s was of Suu Kyi’s release, Abhisit said: “It’s difficult to say. It’s difficult for anybody to say with certainty.”

Abhisit said that what Asean is looking at more is the direction that Than Shwe and the leadership of Burma will take, which clearly begins with how the trial plays out.

“So we’ll watch that,” Abhisit said.