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Malaysia Calls For Update of ASEAN's Non-Interference Policy


Malaysia's prime minister says the non-interference policy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should be revised-an apparent move to push member-nation Burma toward democratic reform.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says the concepts and principles in the current ASEAN treaty need updating to reflect the changing needs of member states. He adds this could be done in the 10-nation bloc's new draft constitution currently in the works.

Mr. Badawi made his comments Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur in a speech marking the 39th anniversary of ASEAN's founding.

ASEAN leaders have recently said they are concerned that Burma is tarnishing the group's credibility because of the military government's poor human rights record, including the prolonged house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and its
failure to enact democratic reforms.

Last month in an interview with VOA, ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong said Asian leaders want Burma's military regime, as a member of ASEAN, to be more responsive to the damage done to ASEAN by Burma's failure to implement
democratic reforms, and to end human rights abuses.

Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the last 16 years under house arrest. She leads Burma's opposition National League for Democracy, which won parliamentary elections in 1990, but was never allowed to take power.

Burma's military government has promised democratic reforms, but there have been few signs of change.

ASEAN comprises Malaysia, Burma, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Brunei.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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