Skip to comments.Malaysia's Mahathir calls for Myanmar to release Aung San Suu Kyi
Posted on 06/17/2005 9:50:07 AM PDT by LwinAungSoe
Mahathir, who engineered Myanmar's entrance into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the junta should not be afraid of the ramifications of freeing Aung San Suu Kyi or making other reforms.
"I fought hard for Myanmar to be admitted into ASEAN. I think the leaders of Myanmar should consider public opinion (in support of her release) and there is nothing they have to lose," he said.
"It is up to the government of Myanmar to decide. It would make things easier for everyone."
Myanmar's democracy figurehead on Sunday celebrates her 60th birthday at her Yangon home where she has been confined for the past two years, in her third stint under house arrest since beginning her political career in 1988.
Mahathir said Myanmar's generals needed to be assured that if they moved towards democracy, they would not face prosecution.
"Some guarantee must be given that no action will be taken against them," he said.
The Malaysian political strongman said however that the world had to be patient with the regime, which has drawn widespread criticism for its failure to end four decades of military rule.
"Democracy is not something that has been with us for millions of years. It is not normal at all, the normal way is autocracy and monarchy," he said.
Malaysian police on Thursday arrested 68 Myanmar activists for protesting outside their country's embassy against Aung San Suu Kyi's detention. They are being held at a local police station and are yet to be charged in court.
Another noisy protest was held outside the Myanmar mission Friday, with a dozen opposition members carrying placards and a birthday cake demanding the release of Myanmar's freedom icon.
Representatives of Malaysia's Democratic Action Party (DAP), led by its youth chairman Nga Kor Ming, held the cake aloft and sang a birthday song dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi.
In a written memorandum to the military junta which was presented to embassy officials, Nga called for the "unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and some 1,350 political prisoners".
He also urged Malaysia to free all the Myanmar activists arrested Thursday outside the embassy.
Myanmar is next in line to take over the rotating chair of the 10-member ASEAN from Malaysia next year.
But parliamentarians in several ASEAN countries have urged their governments to block Myanmar's accession because of its lack of reforms which they say is an embarrassment to the region.
Mahathir has said in the past that Myanmar might have to be expelled from the ASEAN grouping if its rulers continue defying world pressure to release Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won disallowed 1990 elections in a landslide.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
What other nations have relationships with Burma/Myanmar? (besides China & ASEAN).
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