By Xia Fan, Uditha Jayasinghe, Guo Jia
NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Expectations are high as Myanmar hosts the 24th Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit here with many hoping for great investment opportunities and development for the nation.
The summit will kick off Saturday when heads of state, diplomats and delegates from 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and beyond arrive in this grandiose city to set the future path for the Southeast Asian bloc.
This will also be the first time for Myanmar to host the summit, 17 long-waited years after it joined the group in 1997.
Having relinquished its first chance to chair ASEAN in 2006 in an effort to maintain ASEAN solidarity against a backdrop of western pressure, Myanmar is clearly eager to use this opportunity to demonstrate its progress in substantial economic and political reforms undertaken since 2011. "All the people in Myanmar are very happy and very excited about the summit, at which we can show the world we can do it," Myint Kyaw, director of the Research and Data Division of Myanmar' s Information and Public Relations Department, told Xinhua Friday. His face lit up with joy. "The government has done so many things in preparation for the meetings,"Myint Kyaw said."Infrastructure, logistics... our government also sent people to previous ASEAN chairs to learn how to do it."
Inside the new Myanmar International Convention Center, which will be the main venue for the weekend summit, decorations and preparations seem all set. A staff member said that this will be the first time for the center, which was opened in January 2014, to be used.
A day before the summit is set to open, rehearsals are in full swing with university students from Yangon and Mandalay practicing vigorously for the opening ceremony. Staff were scouring around putting the last minute touches to the venue and were on hand to help foreign journalists getting ready for coverage of the summit.
Myanmar President U Thein Sein was at hand to visit the newly constructed venue and opened an exhibition of traditional arts and crafts to be viewed by visitors.
According to Myint Kyaw, 474 reporters have registered to cover the summit, in which 336 are from outside the country.
Quratul-Ain Bandial, a senior reporter with the Brunei Times, seemed satisfied with the service at the summit.
She said the hotel and facilities in the media center exceeded her expectations.
The city has also arranged shuttle bus service for the media.
Security has been beefed up. According to local media reports, Myanmar police will deploy 11,000 personnel to boost security with police forces from Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay regions mobilized to stand by.
The country has started tightening security at the Yangon International Airport in cooperation with the International Criminal Police Organization a week before the summit begins.
Outside the Myanmar International Convention Center, logos and posters can be seen almost everywhere.
Citizens, many of whom public servants who moved in after the government shifted capital in 2005, are excited.
As the summit features connectivity, ordinary citizens hope that it would draw Myanmar closer to the rest of the world. "We hope that this event will bring more investment to Myanmar, which has been growing steadily since the economy was opened up several years ago. We hope that business will improve human resources and provide more opportunities for growth,"Laein Maung Pan, an officer from the Culture Ministry, told Xinhua.