18 June, 2021

Dubious Entrant

Despite US warnings, Myanmar is admitted to the regional bloc

Dubious Entrant
The controversial decision of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) to admit Myanmar as a member has drawn flak from the US, Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as well as academics and the press within ASEAN itself. Observers predict that Myanmar will hang like a dark cloud over ASEAN for a long time to come.

No sooner did the ASEAN foreign ministers announce their decision on May 31 than the US State Department voiced its regrets, saying: "It (the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC) has violated the rights of its own citizens. It has taken actions that undermine stability in the region by producing refugee flows and allowing (Myanmar) to remain a major source of narcotics." In anticipation of the ASEAN move, US President Bill Clinton passed new sanctions against Myanmar on May 20, prohibiting new US investment in the country.

Myanmar's admission to the ranks of ASEAN is a setback to Suu Kyi's student-based democracy movement, which had drawn inspiration from the recent pullout of a string of foreign investors from the country....

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