JOE LEAHY in Jakarta ASEAN has coined many terms since its inception nearly 30 years ago, but the most famous has to be 'constructive engagement'. Invented to describe the group's approach to its errant cousin, Burma, constructive engagement has come under unprecedented scrutiny in the past week as Rangoon prepares to enter the ASEAN fold. And ASEAN has been none too pleased with all the negative attention. Officials have complained that the furore over Burma threatens to overshadow the group's achievements in other areas - such as fostering the ASEAN Regional Forum, an arena for discussion of security issues. 'This is our organisation not theirs,' chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said earlier this week, referring to the group's Western critics. 'And we are, I hope, in their eyes adult enough to decide whom we want to have as an observer or not,' Mr Alatas said. The controversy centres on moves to grant Burma observer status at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting this weekend and to allow it to participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum on Tuesday. The proposals have led to rumbles of disapproval from the West, including a statement by the European Union that it will reconsider deepening relations with the group if Burma is on board. As the debate has deepened, ASEAN has been forced again to discuss the virtues of constructive engagement. 'Myanmar [Burma] is not attacking any other country. Therefore, what happens there is purely the internal affairs of that country,' Mr Alatas said this week. But while ASEAN may have the right to constructively ignore the dirty washing in its neighbours' backyards, it does so at the risk of souring its other engagements. Burmese students in Bangkok urged ASEAN to admit the country as a member only after a democratic government has been set up.