BBC World Service The Word Today, 22:00 GMT, January 8, 2006

Interview with Razali Ismail, on his 'standing down' from the post of UN Representative and Special Envoy to Burma

Unofficial transcript -

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BBC - Time is 23:00 GMT. You are listening to the World Today BBC.

The man whose job was to talk to the Burmese government on behalf of the United Nations has said 'enough is enough.'

Razali Ismail has said he is not renewed his UN contract in frustration after the military regime prevented him from entering the country since March 2004. M. Razali is a Malaysian diplomat, and his frustrations are mirrored by those of his Foreign Minister Dr. Syed Hamid Albar whose visit sponsored by the regional organization ASEAN has itself been postponed by Burma.

The focus of concern is the perceived lack of the proposed democratic reforms in a country where head of democratic opposition Aung San Suu Kyi has remained under virtual house arrest for more than 15 years. When I spoke to Mr. Razali about his decision to end his UN role, he bagn by insisting, he stood down, rather than resigned from his post.

Razali - It's not true that I quit. I mean I have come to the conclusion after 23 months nearly of not being allowed to go back there or allowed to meet with the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister when they are overseas, then my usefulness has come to an end. I have said this idea to the UN, and the UN understan this.

So when my contract lapsed on the 3rd of January, it seems like the right thing to do justo not to continue with the contract,

BBC - Did the UN attempt to persuade you to stay on?

Razali - No, no. The realization has come that we must let new ways or new person, I mean, what's the point of being Special Envoy when you cannot even go anywhere.

BBC - So do you think the UN will appoint someone to replace you then.

Razali - I don't know. Will that person be allowed to do the things that I did. That's part of the problems, isn't it? But the UN has to find different ways.

BBC - What are the ways do you think or would you advice, given your experience?

Razali - I don't know. I mean, the UN might send someone just to speak to the government. One might want to talk to ASEAN chair, which is Maylaysia this year, to see ASEAN might speak on behalf of the international community. If the (Myanmar) government remains intransigent, there is not much you can do.

BBC- Well, indeed. Dr. Syed Hamid Albar, Malaysian Foreign Minister wants to go and was asked by ASEAN to go. Now the government in Rangoon has put off his visit for a while. So it seems that they are not prepared to talk to anybody in at the moment.

Razali - Yah, you can come to such conclusion. But the UN has other things it has to do. It has to do as much as possible - I believe this - on the humanitarian assistance. It's not as if that the UN can shut its door on Myanmar.

BBC - Should it also be using the stick then, as well as the carrots, I think?

Razali - That's not for me to say. When I was involved all aspects were considered. But the UN has never used the stick though.

BBC - Well, it hasn't. But some people have suggested that sanctions of various kinds might be an option.

Razali - No, No, No, No, .... If you go to Myanmar you'll see sanctions hurt the wrong people.

BBC - So what can you do then? It's almost the counsel of despair.

Razali - I don't know. I am glad in some way the responsibility is no longer on my shoulder as it were. But I feel guilty 'how would Aung San Suu Kyi look at this desire of mine?"

BBC - You may well have succeded, but what advice would you give to your successor?

Razali - At this moment, we have to think deeply - not jump to one option or another. I would lean very much toward asking ASEAN to things for the UN.

BBC - What's your read of the government in Rangoon? What do you think they are trying to do? What is their intention?

Razali - I think with the exit of Prime Minister General Khun Nyunt, it's clear that the present leadership does not want much engagement with the outside world or international community. They will do whatever they want to do.

BBC - If I can ask one last question, you took on that job with obviously some hopes about you could achive. Do you think in the end that you could be said to have failed to achieve what you had hope to achive

Razali - Oh, yes. I failed.

BBC - Razali Ismail, the former UN Special United Nations Representative and Special Envoy to Burma.

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