Southeast Asian lawmakers called on Saturday for regional grouping ASEAN to stop sitting on its hands over the lack of democratic reform in Myanmar and help drag the issue before the UN Security Council.
Military-ruled Myanmar is a member state of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and has become a source of embarrassment for the grouping, which has committed itself to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
"We are pushing very hard for the issue of Myanmar to be discussed and debated at the Security Council," Malaysian legislator Zaid Ibrahim said after chairing a meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus in Kuala Lumpur.
Asked what ASEAN should do, he told reporters: "They could support our call to bring Myanmar to the Security Council."
Myanmar proposed a seven-step "roadmap to democracy" in 2003 but it is still at step one, the drafting of a new constitution.
In May, Myanmar further dismayed the international community by extending the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Caucus participant Bo Hla-Tint, exiled member of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), said the NLD wanted the Security Council, including Myanmar's ally China, to press for renewed dialogue between the junta and the NLD.
"China has veto power so we need their cooperation. That's why we are seeking a mild (U.N.) resolution that would be agreeable to the members of the Security Council," he said.
"We are not trying to isolate our own country or punish them. We are trying to convince them that by working with the international community and ASEAN, it's better for everybody."
ASEAN holds a series of ministerial meetings next week in Malaysia where the issue of Myanmar is likely to be discussed.
The meetings will include talks between ASEAN and major world powers such as the United States, China and the European Union.
Washington and European nations impose sanctions on Myanmar, which has become a thorn in ASEAN's external relations.
Myanmar was recently persuaded to skip its turn to chair ASEAN because Western powers would have boycotted meetings hosted by the junta.
The inter-parliamentary caucus comprises members of both governing and opposition parties from all of ASEAN's 10 member states except Myanmar.
It cannot bind ASEAN but its call for a tougher stand on Myanmar has begun to resonate inside ASEAN.