Posted at brunei fm on Feb 5th, 2012 .
NEW YORK, Feb 5 (NNN-Bernama) — Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member countries can influence fellow member Myanmar to follow the path of reform and democracy.
Its “core members”, particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, can play a constructive role in this endeavor, according to a task force set up by the Asia Society in New York on United States policy towards Myanmar.
The task force, which comprises diplomats, academics and other experts, held discussions at the Asia Society on Wednesday, on Myanmar’s political transition, with two of its key members.
The members were Priscilla Clapp, a former chief of mission at the US Embassy in Yangon from 1999-2002, and a principal advisor of the task force; and, Suzanne DiMaggio, vice-president of Global Policy Programmes at the Asia Society and a project director, returning from a visit to Myanmar.
Speaking to Bernama on the sidelines of the discussions, Clapp said Asean could be very effective in moving Myanmar towards the path of democracy.
Myanmar, which wants to chair the Asean group in 2014, will be more open to listening to the Asean group.
Both Clapp and DiMaggio visited Myanmar to engage in what is being called the ‘Track-II Dialogue’, an informal channel of communication between experts from both countries, to explore opportunities for cooperation and elevate the hitherto downgraded US-Myanmar relations.
The discussions had been focused on a range of issues, including political and economic development, environmental sustainability, rule of law, democracy building, and people-to-people exchanges.
They met government officials, civil society and private sector leaders, besides opposition representatives, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
DiMaggio spoke of the “remarkable changes” taking place in Myanmar,
particularly the return of opposition parties to Myanmar’s political scene.
Forty-seven political parties, she said, had registered for a parliamentary by-election on April 1.
The National League for Democracy has registered nearly two dozen candidates
to run in the election, including Suu Kyi.