PORT MORESBY, Nov 18 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad complimented Papua New Guinea today over the way it organised the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, its first time, despite the Pacific country’s poverty and lack of infrastructure.
The Malaysian prime minister even said he found Papua New Guinea’s microphone system during the annual conference of 21 countries to be more modern and better than Malaysia’s.
“Their government successfully arranged this meeting,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference during the Apec summit here that ended today.
“Even though it involved several meetings, the size of the meetings were small and big, round and long, but they managed it. They managed it very well. Everyone had their say. There were no major problems.”
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia should adopt Papua New Guinea’s microphone system during meetings that allowed speakers to signal to the chairman.
“Singapore’s system is also very good. I think there is a lot to learn. I have made note of all these things. I will tell the government we have to do, if not better than them, as good as they have done.”
Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s poorest countries where about 40 per cent of the population live on less than US$1.25 a day, reportedly spent US$300 million (RM1.3 billion) to host the Apec 2018 summit.
Its government also reportedly forked out US$7 million (RM29.3 million) for 40 Maserati and three Bentley Flying Spur luxury sedans to transport world leaders during the conference, sparking a day-long strike by thousands of people in Papua New Guinea last month.
Dr Mahathir travelled in a Maserati during the summit.
The Papua New Guinea capital was filled with police and military guarding the city that has extremely high crime rates. Australia provided huge cruise ships, which were berthed in Port Moresby’s Fairfax Harbour, to house delegates and the media due to a lack of hotels in the city.
The Apec summit, however, reportedly ended in an impasse as leaders failed to agree on a formal written declaration, the first in the conference’s near 30-year history, due to clashes between the United States and China.
International media reported that the US demanded significant reforms to the World Trade Organisation that would likely lead to decreased preferential treatment for China.
Chinese president Xi Jinping and US vice-president Mike Pence also reportedly exchanged criticisms yesterday, with the former slamming America’s trade protectionism and the latter denouncing China’s “opaque” Belt and Road infrastructure programme that is offered to smaller countries.