Investors unmoved by peace, love and solidarity
Kuala Lumpur pulled out all the stops in its preparation for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit last month. The 114 heads of government and heads of state attending would have found that the beautiful high-tech airport's trouble-prone baggage system had been overhauled under the supervision of transport minister Ling Liong Sik. The system, which embarrassingly failed when the airport was opened in 1998, has now been declared fixed.
Potted flowers sprang up in strategic locations where NAM visitors passed and a fleet of new BMWs shuttled VIPs around town. Hotels were equipped with metal detectors and baggage scanners. Twenty-one of the country's top medical teams and 16 ambulances were on standby to provide the highest standard of care for any delegate who might suffer a headache, a heart attack or contract anthrax.
To ensure smooth and pleasant journeys for the guests, several of the city's busiest roads were closed for hours at a time. Television ads were aired to explain the meeting's importance, the symbolism of its logo (a white dove against a blue-and-white background), and to educate the public about NAM's history.
The purpose of the movement, founded in 1961 after being first mooted at the 1955 Bandung Conference, is to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, racism, including Zionism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics".