14th ASEAN Summit cancelled even as the Thai PM refuses to step down; Indonesia condemns North Korean satellite launch; Malaysia’s Razak: Postponement of ASEAN Summit could deter growth of regional forum
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  • With a view to containing the increasing violence by pro-Thaksin groups, a state of emergency was declared in Bangkok and in five nearby provinces even as the 14th ASEAN Summit meeting scheduled to have been held on April 11 was cancelled. Despite the on-going anti-government demonstrations, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban have refused to step down1.

    In Indonesia meanwhile, despite the charges of rampant irregularities, the legislative elections held on April 9 remained peaceful, including in the usually violence-prone Aceh province2. Reports indicated that the ruling party led by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was leading, having secured 20.48 percent of the vote3. Indonesia also expressed concerns over North Korea’s ‘satellite’ launch as it had escalated tensions in the Korean Peninsula4. In other developments, reports noted that Indonesia had started negotiating with global institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) to secure more trade support to deal with the current financial crisis5.

    Malaysian Prime Minister Nazib Razak stated that the postponement of the 14th ASEAN Summit could deter the further development of the regional forum6. However, Nazib stressed that Thailand need not give up its position as the ASEAN chair. Reports also noted that Malaysia was making efforts to resolve the issue of over 15,000 Rohingya refugees through the good offices of the ASEAN secretariat7.

    Reports noted that the work on the Indo-Myanmar joint venture linking the country’s northeast region with Myanmar, the Kaladan project, was expected to begin by the end of 2009. India on its part will construct a port at Sittwe, which was around 400 kilometers from Aizawl8.

    Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Alok Sen meanwhile stated that in order to facilitate cross-border trade, several measures were being taken and pointed out the recent agreements signed by the Union Bank of India with three Myanmarese banks. He however admitted that despite such positive measures, certain operational problems still remained as hurdles in further boosting bilateral trade9.

    In other developments, Myanmar granted permission to Daewoo International of South Korea allowing it to continue its exploration activities at the Bay of Bengal AD-7 offshore site. The site was the setting for the recent naval confrontation between Myanmar and Bangladesh10.