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Myanmar and Its first ASEAN Chairmanship

2014 logo_big01

(Logo of ASEAN 2014, under Myanmar’s ASEAN Chairmanship)

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, a country which government was led by the military junta has rapidly reformed their political system toward a more normally civilian government led by President Thein Sein – who served as a general and then prime minister under the junta – was installed in March 2011.

At the end of the 23rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Brunei, on 10 October 2013, His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei had officially handed over the ASEAN Chairmanship to President of Myanmar. It is recognized as another strong encouragement for Myanmar to assume its first chairmanship after joining ASEAN for 17 years. Since the EU followed the US lead, lifting all non-military sanctions in April 2012, and since Myanmar is rich in the areas of uranium, rare earth, gem stones, timber, gas, among others, taking this chairmanship, it is obviously the opportunities for Myanmar to attract more interests, both politically and economically, as it would be able to absorb more ODA or respective assistant and foreign direst investment from ASEAN Dialogue Partners.

Within the Myanmar Chairmanship’s website, it lists down the Myanmar’s six priorities which are:

  • To ensure the full implementation of the remaining tasks in realizing ASEAN Community by 2015.
  • To set the priority areas for acceleration in implementation of the ASEAN Community, to review the status of community building, to set future initiatives to vitalize ASEAN, to formulate programmes in promoting  ASEAN external relations.
  • To carry out the review of ASEAN Charter, in order to maintain the relevance of ASEAN in changing circumstances.
  • To conduct the mid-term review of the implementation the ARF vision statement and to develop a new vision for ARF.
  • to transform ASEAN as a people-centred organization, to enhance engagements with civil society, to accelerate participation of women, youth, parliamentarians and media in the activities of ASEAN.
  • To work on developing the ASEAN Vision beyond 2015.

Within Justine Drennan’s text in Diplomat, As Myanmar prepares to take on the 2014 ASEAN chairmanship, it would do well to learn from Cambodia’s 2012 experience if it hopes to continue improving its reputation. From Cambodia, Myanmar could learn “not a lot of good things, but at least they could learn what to avoid,” Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said recently with a laugh, extracted it from The Diplomat.

Maybe from this sense, Myanmar has therefore assumed the ASEAN chair in which it sets the theme of a year as “Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community”. With regard to this theme, Myanmar has indicated in its Chairmanship’s website as following  “The solidarity of ASEAN is the first and foremost ingredient for ASEAN to be credible in the world and to be fully integrated into a community. The ultimate goal of ASEAN is to reach to a peaceful and prosperous community where ASEAN will be outward looking, playing a leading role in emerging regional architecture and contributing to the healthy development of global community, people-centred, caring and socially responsible, economically dynamic, sustainable and resilient, maintaining peace, stability and harmony.  Myanmar’s chairmanship of ASEAN aims to add value to these ASEAN objectives and dynamics.”

Well, what the Myanmar has to learn from Cambodia ASEAN Chairmanship’s experience in 2012 is the failure of all ASEAN Foreign Ministers in which they failed to find a consensus in order to issue a Joint Communiqe reflecting the ASEAN Centrality and unity after ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in July 2012, Phnom Penh. After that, they came up with the Statement on the Six-points Principle on South China Sea on July 20, 2012. There was also a short text of mine to briefly discuss about this. Visit here: “Joint Communiqe and South China Sea

Phnom Penh, January 15, 2014
Khov Ea Hai

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This entry was posted on January 15, 2014 by in ASEAN Basis, News, World and tagged , , .
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