Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012
SINGAPORE – Speaking in parliament today on Singapore’s position and bilateral relations with Myanmar, Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam called for the lifting of sanctions against Myanmar, as it will be in the best interest of both the country and ASEAN as a whole.
He said he has spoken to various US congressmen on ASEAN’s position that the sanctions may not be the best way to deal with the situation in Myanmar.
“When we do talk about the ASEAN Community in 2015, creating a centre of 600 million people, creating physical and social connectivities, obviously sanctions against any particular member is not the most helpful,” he said.
He also said the two countries enjoy good and long standing bilateral relations, and that Singapore hopes to develop more links with Myanmar as the country opens up economically and politically.
On the issue of Myanmar’s upcoming ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014, Mr Shanmugam said Singapore welcomes Myanmar’s Chairmanship, and that ASEAN has never set any specific preconditions for any ASEAN Chairmanship.
Instead of setting “progress targets” for assuming Chairmanship, Mr Shanmugam said ASEAN has taken the position that Myanmar should be allowed to follow the seven step roadmap it has set for itself.
The Chairmanship presents an opportunity for Myanmar to build on its current momentum of progress, and that as ASEAN Chair, Myanmar will have to defend both its country’s and ASEAN’s interests, he added.
Mr Shanmugam cautioned that Myanmar will also have to reassure ASEAN’s external partners that under its Chairmanship, ASEAN will continue to make progress towards an ASEAN Community in 2015 and said that “the world will be watching.”
However, he expressed confidence that Myanmar will work hard to make its ASEAN Chairmanship a success and that Singapore will work with Myanmar towards this end.