NAY PYI TAW: Myanmar will be on its highest security alert when it hosts the 25th ASEAN Summit in the middle of November.
Additional security measures will be laid out to ensure the safety of political leaders set to attend the meeting, among them newly sworn-in Indonesian President Joko Widodo and US President Barack Obama.
Authorities will be placing more security scanners and CCTVs at the summit venue in Nay Pyi Taw. They acknowledged this meeting will be one of their toughest security challenges.
“We hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” said Brigadier-general Soe Myaing, chief of Division against Transnational Crime at the Myanmar Police Force. “Generally, for the kind of events which interest any kind of terrorists, we prepare very seriously and very thoroughly. I pray a lot that this event will be smooth and successful.”
With a gathering of a number of political leaders at one location, security experts believe the ASEAN Summit may be a potential target.
“Some international terrorist elements might try to make disturbance to the head of state personal security area, their travelling area and the meeting and summit area,” said retired Brigadier-general Khin Maung Si from the Myanmar Police Force. “If these terrorist elements carry out the disturbance action in that area, it’s easy to disgrace the accountability of our government.”
Based on experience, Khin Maung Si believes authorities have been pre-empting and planning for different security scenarios and possible breaches.
“In our country, the security for the places, security for the travelling route and security for meeting area and activities area – specific training, specific practicing for every necessary security purpose, we take one month,” said Khin Maung Si. “And I think for the ASEAN summit, these elements take at least three months.”
In November, the convention centre which will host the ASEAN Summit will be in an air-tight security bubble. In the earlier part of this year, when the ASEAN meetings were held in the capital, the Myanmar police force deployed about 6,000 officers for the event. But this time around, they are planning to activate over 10,000 officers and at least double the number of regular checks at the event as well as in the surrounding areas on a daily basis.