Mon 27 Feb 2006
Filed under: ASEAN,News
February 25: Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Saturday that a date had been set for his landmark visit to Myanmar after his January trip was cancelled.
“Yes (a visit date) has been fixed. But it is better that I do not reveal it,” he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency in southern Johor state.
Official sources said Syed Hamid was expected to visit in March ahead of an annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers’ retreat in Indonesia in April.
“We are hopeful the visit will take place in March. He (Syed Hamid) is ready to go. The intention is to have the visit before the April retreat,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Under pressure from the international community, ASEAN at its annual meeting in December reached agreement with Yangon to allow Syed Hamid to visit as an envoy to check on the progress of democracy.
Although no date was set, the visit was expected to occur in January, but the junta announced the Myanmar government was “too busy” moving to a logging town about 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Yangon.
Syed Hamid last week said his visit to Myanmar would occur under a veil of secrecy.
“You will hear it when we have done it,” he said. “All these need to be done quietly and with a cool head because once you are subjected to media pressure it will be more difficult.”
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Myanmar’s junta brutally crushed pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988 and two years later rejected the result of national elections won by the party of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In November, it extended her house arrest by another six months. The Nobel Peace prizewinner has already spent more than 10 of the last 16 years under house arrest.