Friday, August 5, 2011

Burma to take one more step toward regional acceptance

Friday, 05 August 2011 19:02 Te Te

New Delhi (Mizzima) – In a move to gain regional acceptance, Burmese members of Parliament will attend the general assembly of the Asean Inter Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in Phnom Penh in September.

Upper House Speaker Aung Khin Myint will lead a delegation including MPs from ethnic parties and the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

The 32nd AIPA general assembly will be held from September 18 to 24, according to Dr Aye Maung, the chairman of the parliamentary Guarantees, Pledges and Undertakings Vetting Committee.

Since its admission into Asean in 1997, Burma has been involved in AIPA as a “special observer.” AIPA comprises nine Asean countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippine, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei. Burma is the only Asean member not presently a full member of AIPA.

Asean countries formed AIPA in 1977 to promote solidarity and cooperation among parliaments of member countries. The venue is rotated among the member parliaments in alphabetical order unless otherwise decided by the general assembly, according to the AIPA Web site. MPs of member countries attend to discuss affairs regarding economics, politics, women’s rights, migrant workers’ rights and battling illegal drugs.

Burma critics say that if it becomes a full AIPA member, it would place limitations on the group’s discussions promoting democratic practices in regional countries.

Debbie Stothard, the coordinator of the Alternative Asean Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma) said: “Some Asean members are not known for having free and fair elections. These governments will be quite happy to have someone worse than them in AIPA. It will ensure that AIPA will not be able to discuss or promote democratic practices and procedures in Asean governance.”  On the other hand, she said that some AIPA members are not comfortable that regime-appointed MPs who won an “obviously unfree and unfair election” would be eligible to join.

This is the first time MPs of Burma will attend the general assembly. Under the former Burmese junta, only the chief justice and advocate general could attend. At that time, the Members of Parliament Union-Burma (MPU), which comprises elected representatives of the 1990-general elections, tried to join AIPA.

Dr. Tint Swe, a member of MPU who presented Burmese affairs to AIPA, said, “We don’t have any objection that AIPA accepts the [current] MPs of Burma. But, we doubt that the MPs of Burma can give a genuine voice to the people [in the general meeting].”

Leave a Reply