Monday, May 26, 2014


   Jakarta, May 26, 2014 (Antara) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members have consistently adhered to its non-interference principle, but as neighbors and friends, they can still advice or show concern during troubled times, such as Thailand's military coup.  
   "It is true that it is an internal affair of Thailand, but ASEAN is a caring and sharing community," Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono informed the press in Manila, the Philippines, on May 24, while expressing his views on the military coup in Thailand.

         Yudhoyono expressed concern over the Thai military coup and hoped that democratic values will be implemented in Thailand in line with the spirit of the new ASEAN Charter.
        "Frankly speaking, Indonesia is concerned because a military coup is not democratic. I have to be firm, clear, and frank that although, it is an internal affair of Thailand, Indonesia is concerned about it," Yudhoyono confessed.
         He called on the ASEAN to discuss the coup in Thailand for the best interests of that country and the ASEAN.
         The new ASEAN Charter made it obligatory for members to respect democratic values and human rights, the head of state pointed out.
         "In view of that, I believe that ASEAN should take a stance and then initiate steps for the best interests of the Thai nation and in turn for ASEAN," the President reiterated.
          Earlier, following the Thai Army's announcement of the coup, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa issued a statement saying that close cooperation between the military and civilian elements in Thailand was needed to restore the political situation.
         "Without intending to interfere in the internal affairs of Thailand, as part of the ASEAN Community, in particular the ASEAN Political and Security Community, and in accordance with the Charter of ASEAN, which emphasizes adherence to democratic principles and the constitutional government, the developments in Thailand merit the attention of Indonesia and ASEAN," Marty stated in a written statement on May 22, 2014.
         "In connection with this, Indonesia calls on the armed forces of Thailand and various relevant civilian elements to work together in a reconciliatory atmosphere to quickly restore the political situation in Thailand," asserted the Indonesian foreign minister.
         Marty added that he will communicate with the representatives from Myanmar, as the Chair of ASEAN, to mobilize ASEAN's contribution to establish conducive conditions for normalizing the political situation in Thailand.
        While accompanying President Yudhoyono during his visit to Manila, Minister Marty Natalegawa on May 23 notified the press that the group should voice its deep concern over the military coup in Thailand, suggesting that the 10-member regional bloc cannot afford to remain silent.
          "Silence on this issue is very deafening, and therefore, we must express our views," Natalegawa stated as quoted by transnational news agencies.
        While acknowledging that the coup was an internal matter of Thailand, according to Natalegawa, it is only natural that the latest political development in that member country is a situation of tremendous concern as ASEAN is now a community. 
     "How do we remain silent when one of us is facing such a situation?" he questioned, adding that ASEAN must, at the very least, express its attention and concern on the matter.
         The minister hoped that the military authority, armed forces, and civilian elements can soon sit together and move Thailand back on track towards normalization of the political situation.
         Other ASEAN member countries, such as Singapore and the Philippines have also expressed concern over the latest developments in Thailand.
        "We hope that all parties involved will exercise restraint and work towards a positive outcome and avoid violence and bloodshed," Singapore's Foreign Ministry noted in its statement issued on May 22.
        "Thailand is an important regional country and a key member of ASEAN. Prolonged uncertainties will set back Thailand and the region as a whole," the ministry reiterated.
       "As a close friend of Thailand, we hope that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible," stated the ministry.
         In Manila, Charles Jose, a spokesman for the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, on May 23 remarked that his government is closely following the latest developments in Thailand and supports a peaceful resolution to the present situation.
         "The Philippines likewise hopes for an early return to normalcy, consistent with the democratic principles, the rule of law, and the will and interests of the Thai people," Jose said as quoted by Kyodo.
        The military coup in Thailand has also drawn criticism from many world leaders with the U.S. saying that there was no justification for the coup, while Tokyo said the coup was deeply regrettable.
         Meanwhile, Indonesian international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana of the University of Indonesia, however, said that Indonesia should stay out of Thailand's domestic affairs despite the escalating situation in the country after the Thai military announced on May 22 that it was taking power in a coup d'etat.
        "We have made a commitment based on the ASEAN Charter that we will not intervene with other country's domestic affairs unless we have been asked to by that country," Juwana was quoted as saying by Jakarta Globe
    "Indonesia should also urge other ASEAN countries to practice self-restraint, to not intervene, and stay true to the ASEAN charter," he reiterated.

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