JAKARTA - THE Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) is considering giving military-led Myanmar the chair of the grouping in 2014, despite grave concerns about human rights abuses and sham democracy.
Senior Asean officials gathering in Jakarta ahead of a leadership summit at the weekend said Myanmar - also known as Burma - had sought the chair of the 10-nation block in 2014, when communist Laos was due to take the job.
Human Rights Watch said giving the chair to Myanmar - a pariah state in the democratic world and a notorious human rights abuser - would be an embarrassment for a group that is already struggling with credibility issues.
'Rewarding Burma with Asean's chairmanship after it staged sham elections and still holds 2,000 political prisoners would be an embarrassment for the region,' HRW Asia deputy director Elaine Pearson said in a statement.
'Asean leaders need to decide if they will let Burma demote Asean to the laughing stock of intergovernmental forums.' Myanmar President Thein Sein has arrived in Indonesia, the current chair of Asean, to attend the two-day summit starting Saturday.
He met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday in what is his first trip abroad as president since he was sworn in on March 30. -- AFP