PATTAYA: “An unexpected ending” – that was the description by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over the postponement of the 14th Asean summit and related summits when he walked into the press conference with the Malaysian media here Saturday.
When asked how his day had been, he said: “It has been a frustrating day. I was absolutely prepared to meet them (the other leaders at the summits), I was looking forward to meeting them.
“Unfortunately, that couldn’t take place. We were unsure what was going to happen next, so I was in a state of flux,” he said.
Najib said he was told of the postponement at about noon.
As the drama was unfolding, Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed were having lunch opposite Royal Cliff Beach Hotel.
A Malaysian official who was also present said they saw an unusually large numbers of fully armed soldiers entering the dining hall.
“When asked what was happening, the Thais simply said reassuringly that the soldiers were taking their lunch break,” she said, adding that they were actually sent to provide extra protection to the delegates.
Asked whether he saw the demonstrators, Najib, who was staying on the fifth floor of the Royal Cliff Grand Hotel and Spa, said he could not because of the angle of his hotel room.
At the same time, security officials of the various leaders were running helter-skelter around the hotel to look at alternative arrangements to evacuate them if the situation warranted.
“I was told that they managed to get into the hotel lobby and there was a high degree of mayhem down below. My security boys told me that I cannot go down for I was quite keen to go down and see,” Najib said.
Najib, when asked if he would be taking a helicopter or a boat out of the resort, he said no.
“I will be taking the normal route…going by car (to the airport),” said Najib who looked very relaxed despite having to go through the ordeal of preparing for the Summits and subsequently the unexpected cancellation. Asked about the potential risks he would face if Thailand were to reconvene the summits, he said: “The risks would be the same for all of us, not just for me.”
“I am sure they (the Thais) would take into account the experience at this summit at Pattaya and preparations will be made accordingly,” he added.
Najib said the Thai government had decided to defer the conferences because the situation did not permit the Summit to proceed.
“We all understand the situation faced, it was beyond their expectation and under these circumstances it is more important in the interest of the safety of the leaders of Asean, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India not to continue the conference and to take steps to enable them to return home safely.”
A decision had been reached for the conference to be held at a date to be informed later.
Najib, when asked whether the postponement would adversely affect Asean, said the reason for the postponement was an internal issue and would not affect the Asean spirit of all member countries that was still strong and solid.
He said that when China and Japan compete with one another to contribute more through the Chiangmai Initiative, it showed that Asean was a regional cooperation mechanism that was very viable.
He said Asean could still head toward the objective of creating one Asean community by 2015.
Source : Bernama