KUALA LUMPUR: THE Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on international events, appears to have claimed another scalp.
The New Straits Times reliably learnt that the biennial Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) 2021 exhibition, slated for March, has been cancelled altogether.
It has instead been rescheduled to 2023.
Information gathered from diplomats, senior officials from the defence and security industries, as well as foreign ministries suggest that the uncertainty over the pandemic, coupled with budgetary constraints of participants, led to the mega event’s cancellation.
Top brass from the Defence and Home ministries, as well as Lima organisers, confirmed the matter, but declined to comment, pending an official government announcement.
One high-ranking source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said all aforementioned factors had led organisers to adopt a pragmatic approach.
“We were made to understand that owing to the pandemic, subsequent lockdowns worldwide and the Movement Control Order, the situation did not warrant Lima 2021 to proceed.
“Officials also took into consideration the budgetary constraints of participating nations and industries,” said the source.
The Lima series, which was first organised in 1991, is one of the world’s largest defence, security, aerospace and maritime exhibitions.
Another international defence and security event had earlier this year been temporarily put out of commission by the pandemic.
Defence Services Asia (DSA) 2020, which was concurrently planned with the National Security (Natsec) Asia 2020 from April 20 to 23 at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre, was shelved due to the pandemic.
Organisers had postponed DSA and Natsec to 24 to 27 Aug, but decided to cancel it to conform with social distancing measures.
Also having fallen victim to Covid-19 is the Kuala Lumpur International Logistics and Transport Exhibition (KiLAT) 2020.
KiLAT was scheduled for 8 to 11 July, but is believed to have been tentatively postponed to 12 to 14 Jan.
“Malaysia will lose out on huge foreign exchange and revenue with the cancellations of these mega events and other international forums, conferences, exhibitions and seminars.
“The tourism, hotel, food and beverage, travel and tours and related industries are suffering massive losses running into billions of ringgit with the absence of visitors,” said an official.
However, the official said human lives were more valuable as organisers, governments and stakeholders took such matters seriously after careful consideration and consultation.
“Covid-19 poses grave uncertainties, which have resulted in global travel disruptions and other circumstances.
“Hence it is only prudent to defer or cancel the events, pending the discovery of a vaccine.
“At the same time, we want to ensure a conducive and productive business environment for our stakeholders, exhibitors and visitors attending the events.”