Asean Reaction Mixed On Myanmar Decision To Keep Suu Kyi In Detention
MANILA, Aug 12 (Bernama) -- Southeast Asian countries showed mixed reactions Tuesday ranging from condemnation by the Philippines to milder disappointment by Singapore to therenewed house detention of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi after a court convicted her of violating the terms of her house arrest, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.
The Philippine government denounced the court ruling as "incomprehensible and deplorable" and renewed its call for Suu Kyi's "immediate and unconditional release."
In Singapore, the Foreign Ministry commended Myanmar's generals for reducing Suu Kyi's jail sentence and choosing to put her under house arrest instead of keeping her in jail.
Malaysia expressed ''deep disappointment'' over the renewed incarceration of Suu Kyi and pressed for ASEAN member countries to discuss the court verdict.
On Tuesday, the court sentenced Suu Kyi to three years in prison for breaching the terms of her house arrest after an uninvited American swam to her lakeside house in Yangon in May and stayed there for two days.
Junta leader Sr. Gen. Than Shwe intervened even before the court decision was announced, telling the country's home minister to halve whatever sentence was handed down and then suspend it, leaving Suu Kyi under house arrest.
In Manila, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said the ruling is meant to keep Suu Kyi under house arrest ahead of the general election Myanmar has reportedly planned for next year.
"They don't want her to be out before the election obviously," Romulo told reporters.
"This new ruling places doubt on the commitment of the government of Myanmar to hold free, fair, participatory, transparent, and credible elections in 2010," Romulo added in a statement.
The Singaporean Foreign Ministry, while expressing disappointment at the guilty verdict, lauded Myanmar's generals for taking steps to ensure her well-being, such as allowing her to see medical personnel, keep contact with party members, gain access to news materials and receive visitors.
"These are significant gestures by the Myanmar government," the ministry said in a statement, adding it is "happy that the Myanmar government has exercised its sovereign prerogative to grant amnesty for halving her sentence and that she will be placed under house arrest rather than imprisoned."
Singapore has friendly ties with Myanmar and has often taken the stance that it should not be ostracized from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which it is a part.
In Bangkok, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya declined to comment on the verdict against Suu Kyi.
Kasit said he needs to thoroughly study the verdict and consult with Asean counterparts before any comments can be made as the current chair of Asean.