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Five reject civil society reps at Asean Summit

HUA HIN, 23 Oct 2009: The governments of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore have rejected members of civil groups from their respective countries at the 15th Asean Summit here.

Debby Stothard of the Alternative Asean Network said they were informed by the Thai Foreign Ministry at 11pm yesterday that the leaders would not meet the five people nominated by the civil groups.

“Some governments like Singapore have even replaced the nominees with their own representatives,” she said as the summit kicked off at the Dusit Thani Hotel in the seaside resort here Friday.

She said the remaining five representatives from Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam were told to come to the meeting at 7am Friday, five hours before the scheduled informal meeting between the leaders and the civil society groups.

Stothard said the civil groups were disappointed that the representatives were not allowed to speak at the 30-minute meeting, and instead only an academician from Chulalongkorn University would be allowed to talk.

“We are still trying to get more people to talk at the meeting,” she said.

The rejected civil society representatives are Khin Ohmar (Myanmar), Sister Crescencia L Lucero (Philippines), Sinapan Samydorai (Singapore), Manichanh Philaphanh (Laos) and Nay Vanda (Cambodia).

Malaysia is represented by Moon Hui Tah, campaign coordinator of human rights organisation Suaram.

The dialogue between the 10 Asean leaders and civil society groups was introduced during the 14th Asean Summit held here last February.

The first meeting itself was embroiled in controversy after leaders of Myanmar and Cambodia refused to meet the representatives from their respective countries.

Among the highlights of the 15th Summit is the launch of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner, Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, has been appointed Malaysia’s representative to the body. — Bernama

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