Should Asean be an organisation based on the rule of law?

This is the key question for the regional bloc as it grapples with the issue of Myanmar.

People demonstrating in Yangon in February last year after the Myanmar military took power through a coup. PHOTO: NYTIMES
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Myanmar joined Asean in 1997 and has been a troublesome member, presenting the regional grouping with two serious problems. The first is the inhumane manner in which it has treated its Rohingya minority. The second is the military coup against the elected government on Feb 1 last year. In this essay, I will focus on the second problem.

The coup occurred one day before newly elected Members of Parliament were due to be sworn in. All had won office in an election on Nov 8, 2020, which took place under a Constitution written by a previous military government known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council. In the November polls, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, won 138 seats while the Union Solidarity and Development Party, linked to the military, managed to secure only seven seats. The military has rejected the results of the election, claiming that massive fraud had been committed by the NLD.

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