MYANMAR'S reform efforts are credible and positive, Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday, as he called for recognition and support for its plans.
He also described the latest pledge by Myanmar's President Thein Sein, its government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to work together for further reform as 'encouraging', after three MPs asked for an assessment of the country's political developments.
Last month, Myanmar held landmark by-elections which brought Ms Suu Kyi and her pro-democracy party into Parliament for the first time in years. Mr Shanmugam noted that foreign observers were satisfied with the polls.
'The overall trajectory of political developments in Myanmar in recent months has been positive,' he said. 'Everyone recognises that these are real, credible changes which ought to be supported.'
While he noted that there would still be uncertainty as Myanmar continues to try to move forward, he noted the pledge by the country's leaders and Ms Suu Kyi to work within the current framework to transform Myanmar.
'We hope that practical flexibility and pragmatism continue to prevail, and if it does, there is reason to be optimistic,' he said.
He also reiterated Asean's call for international sanctions against Myanmar to be lifted, saying that this will encourage reform and help the country integrate into the world economy. Myanmar, he noted, is also taking steps to address the challenges of taking the Asean chair in 2014.
Mr Shanmugam added that Singapore will continue to help the country in capacity building, and support its efforts.
Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Nee Soon GRC) asked what Asean thought of reported human rights violations in Myanmar's treatment of ethnic minorities such as the Karen and Shan.
In reply, Mr Shanmugam noted developments such as the government's signing of peace agreements with 'a very substantial number' of minority groups, and added that this bodes well. 'We have always encouraged Myanmar to adopt international norms in the treatment of all its people,' he said.
On Sunday, Myanmar's Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin arrived in Singapore for an introductory visit. During his three-day visit, he is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mr Shanmugam.