For Immediate Release: 25 October
ASEAN URGED: STOP PASSING THE BUCK ON BURMA
ASEAN-based activists have urged ASEAN to stop "passing
the buck" on to China for the Burmese regime's failure
Dismissing ASEAN's claims that it lacks leverage to influence
the Burmese junta members as a lie, the Alternative ASEAN Network
on Burma (Altsean-Burma) claims that ASEAN countries have enough
collective power to paralyze the SPDC Army within days.
"Burma relies on ASEAN countries - Thailand, Malaysia,
and Singapore - as its main sources of much-needed foreign exchange,
fuel and financial services.
"If ASEAN were to exercise its considerable leverage to
insist that the Burmese junta delivers genuine economic and
political reforms, allies like China, India, and Russia will
have to fall in line with their lead," insisted Altsean-Burma
Coordinator Debbie Stothard. Ms Stothard was speaking in Manila,
at the ASEAN People's Assembly.
"The regime is also afraid of the UN Security Council's
power. Indonesia which will chair the Security Council next
month should use all opportunities at its disposal to ensure
that a genuine breakthrough happens in Burma," she said.
In a briefer released by Altsean-Burma today, the regional human
rights group asserts that ASEAN countries must exercise their
substantial influence on Burma’s military leaders to secure
the delivery of genuine political and economic reforms, instead
of using China as an excuse for inaction. The briefer reveals
* Burma relies on petrol and diesel supplies from Malaysia and
Singapore to keep business running and military vehicles on
the road. The military is the biggest consumer of fuel.
* Burma relies on trade with ASEAN for 51.3% of foreign exchange
revenue, with gas sales to Thailand alone accounting for 48.4%
* Burma relies on Thailand and Singapore as their biggest sources
of new Foreign Direct Investment, constituting a total of 98.61%
of FDI in the past 2 years.
* Burma relies on Singapore’s financial services to store
and move the wealth that they drain away from Burma.
The briefer, available at www.altsean.org, recommends an ASEAN
freeze or even a slowdown on economic, material, and diplomatic
support in order to shepherd the regime to political dialogue
and the achievement of genuine reforms. Action should include
a temporary freeze on large Burmese-held bank accounts and other
financial assets in Singapore as part of a money-laundering
Ms Stothard urged ASEAN leaders to use its considerable economic
leverage to pressure the regime to cease its witch hunt against
monks, pro-democracy activists and ethnic communities and to
commence genuine political dialogue. "Developments in the
past few days prove that pressure works. The regime is vulnerable.
It faces financial shortages due to its own mismanagement and
irresponsible spending in anticipation of future oil and gas
revenue. The Army, which has been suffering from increasing
desertions has been further demoralized by orders to kill monks
during the recent crackdown.
"If ASEAN does not use pressure now, at this critical time,
the Burmese junta will do its usual 'one step forward two steps
back' dance at the ASEAN Summit in Singapore next month,"
concluded Ms Stothard.
Enquiries: Debbie Stothard, Cellphone +6681 686 1652 or Altsean-Burma
tel + 6681 850 9008