Malaysia angry over `arrogant' Burma boycott

As the chief apologist for one of the most reviled regimes in the world, the foreign minister of Burma, U Ohn Gyaw, does not often find himself the object of toasts, but this week has been an exception. On Tuesday, after years as an international leper, Burma was admitted as a full member of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean). Mr Ohn Gyaw's pleasure has been obvious.

Dressed in his white national costume, he beamed as the Burmese flag took its place beside those of Asean's other eight members. On Sunday, however, when he sits down at a bigger gathering of fellow foreign ministers, it will feel more like the old days. At least two of those present in the room will refuse to talk to U Ohn Gyaw.

The occasion will be the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), a defence and security discussion group, consisting of Asean members plus their "dialogue partners", including the United States, China, Russia, Japan and Australia. Also present will be Jacques Poos, foreign minister of Luxembourg, and the EU's rotating President, and Manuel Marin, the European Commissioner responsible for dealing with Asean. At last year's ARF meeting in Jakarta, the Europeans and the US made it clear they opposed Burma's membership. Now it is a fait accompli, they have a simple solution.

"We will try to avoid a clash with Asean, said one European official yesterday, "but we are bound by our common position, which says that no contact is possible with Burma. We will notice the presence of this person in the room, but we will not address him."

There will be tension at this weekend's talks near Kuala Lumpur. Despite accepting Burma's entry into Asean, European governments and the US are still determined to make their unhappiness obvious. But yesterday, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, gave a combative speech in which he insisted Asean would "resist and reject such attempts at coercion".

"Instead of encouraging Asean to accept all South-east Asian countries as soon as possible, Asean has been urged to pass judgement, deny membership, and apply pressure on a potential candidate so as to force that country to remain poor," he said.

He accused the Group of Eight leading economies of arrogance in deciding "that they, and they alone, should determine the fate of every country".

In a draft communique issued today by Asean leaders, the foreign ministers will call for expansion of the UN Security Council, increased food aid to North Korea, an end to the building of Israeli settlements, and will deplore the failure to capture Serbian war criminals.

Traditionally, the group has insisted on non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. But in the last fortnight, there has been a more direct policy, since the coup in Cambodia which caused its planned induction into Asean to be postponed. Asean has offered to take on a mediating role between the Prince Norodom Ranariddh and the man who deposed him, his co-prime minister, Hun Sen.

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering