Monday, October 24, 2011
CHOGM 2011 Perth
Well here I am in Perth, Western Australia to cover the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
This is the third time I've been assigned to cover the event.
The first was when KL hosted CHOGM in 1989. At the end of the meeeting, the Langkawi Declaration on Environment was issued.
The Kuala Lumpur Statement - "Southern Africa:The Way Ahead" maintained pressure on the Pretoria regime and endorsed the programme to bring peace and democracy to South Africa outlined in 1986.
And as we all know, in 1990, South Africa's beloved son, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and later was to become the country's first black President.
It was memorable for me as I covered press conferences by the late Benazir Bhutto (then Pakistan Prime Minister) and Margaret Thatcher (then British PM).
Also met with many anti-Apartheid activists from South Africa.
And yes, Dr Mahathir was our PM then.
My second time was in 1999 in Durban, South Africa. Just a couple of days before the meeting, I received a call from my boss that Dr Mahathir would not be attending CHOGM because he was going to announce the general election.
I was to have met up with (then Business Times journalist) Fauziah Ismail who was then in Johannesburg and was to come to Durban to cover the meeting but our plan was cancelled as both of us were called back home to get prepared for the elections.
So, I've decided to post a report on CHOGM in Perth.
PERTH (Monday Oct 24): The 2011 *Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) begins Friday but celebrations in this western australian city began yesterday evening with the colourful and exuberant "Commonwealth Festival".
The Supreme Court Gardens was filled with crowds of people as they watched performances and listened to music in the cool spring evening.
The event will go on for the whole week.
CHOGM banners and flags of the **53 commonwealth member nations are flying high in this city of lights, as Australia plays host to CHOGM this year.
The theme, "Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience".
This is the third time Australia is hosting the event. The first two were in Melbourne (1981) and in Coolum (2002).
This makes Australia the first nation to host CHOGM three times.
Perth, known as the city of lights, is already on security lockdown with police and military deployed in and around the Perth Convention and exhibition Centre where the main events will be held as well as the Pan Pacific Hotel where the leaders -- mostly presidents and prime ministers -- will be staying.
Some leaders have already arrived.
Helicopters are seen hovering over the city. Even the water police are actively patrolling the waters.
Reportedly costing AUS$37 million,this is the highest ever spent for security in Australia.
Policemen are not only from the state but the rest of the country and from overseas, according to TV reports.
"Every bag searched and every person scanned around the security areas," said a broadcast journalist.
Queen Elizabeth who is Head of the Commonwealth, arrives here on Wednesday. She is already in the country for a six-day visit.
On Thursday, foreign ministers of the Commonwealth will hold their customary meeting known as the pre-CHOGM foreign ministers meeting.
*Every two years, Commonwealth leaders ,eet to discuss global and Commonwealth issues and to agree on collectiev policies and initiatives. this summits provide a unique forum for consultation at the highest level of government. They are organized by the host nation in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat.
**(There are 54 members, but Fiji was suspended in 2009 pending the restoration of a democratically elected government)