IN OTHER WORDS
The Burmese government, run by generals who brazenly ignored election results, put the winner under house arrest and plundered their unfortunate land, expects to assume the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), next year. Modern history gave the junta members reason to believe that they would assume that seat, just as normal leaders would. It has been a principle of many international bodies that most things countries do inside their borders are internal matters, and many of the other ASEAN members have serious imperfections.
Yet, thankfully, the neighbours of Myanmar have begun to twitch. Singapore’s foreign minister, George Yeo, recently said that “some hard messages may have to be put across” to the Burmese generals. Similar sentiments have been expressed by Malaysia, Jakarta and Manila.
Such sentiments are hardly an irresistible wave. But there is no longer a consensus that the Burmese will get the chairmanship. One reason is the tough stance of the US and the EU. Some ASEAN nations also sense that the junta is now a blot on the region. These stirrings may not sway the Burmese generals, who have powerful allies in India and China. But declaring that a gross violator of human rights is unworthy of its chairmanship would be an achievement for ASEAN. — The New York Times