January 26: Vietnam and the Philippines on Friday differed on how firmly to coax Myanmar toward democracy, reflecting potential problems ahead on what constitutes interference into the internal affairs of other members of their 10-nation free trade zone.

Southeast Asian countries have long voiced support for a joint charter. But the proposed addition of possible sanctions or expulsion from ASEAN was likely to be a hard one to accept, particularly for the ruling military junta in Myanmar, also called Burma.

In a major break with its consensus-based past, the 10-country body earlier this month agreed to discuss a plan for a more cohesive organization able to sanction — or even expel — members that do not follow its rules. ASEAN’s members are the Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei and Indonesia.

“We are increasingly vocal about wanting Burma to speed up its roadmap to democracy and to release Ang San Suu Kyi,” said Arroyo, referring to the pro-democracy leader under house arrest in her home country.

Arroyo spoke as part of a panel at the World Economic Forum that also included Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the prime minister of Malaysia, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

While not directly contradicting Arroyo, Nguyen raised the issue some ASEAN members feel uncomfortable about — how far the organization can go in disciplining members without meddling in domestic issues.

ASEAN’s success over the past 40 years was based in part to the “upholding of the principles of nonintervention, consensus and mutual respect,” he said. “This should be upheld.

“The new decision-making mechanism … should not counter the fundamental principles” the organization was built on, he said.