3 Mar 2006

Boycott Singapore


Boycott Singapore Airlines in protest against government repression during World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting. <http://www.foei.org/about/BoycottSingapore.html>

The Singapore Government has issued a warning that it is prepared to cane or imprison protestors who commit �violent crimes� during the forthcoming Annual Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which will be held in Singapore in September this year.

As part of a policy of constructive engagement, the World Bank and IMF have allowed non-governmental organisations to hold rallies at annual meetings as long as the groups are accredited by the two organisations.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess the alternatives for them is to fly other airlines or to fly to Malaysia a few days prior and travel down to Singapore via the causeway. At least that way, the activists at risk of being deported straight away at the Changi Airport can still hang around in Johore Bahru and make alternative arrangements or liase with their embassies representatives should the need arises.

I believe the security forces of Singapore have or are already in the process of collating information on potential rowdy global activists.

antipathy said...

it won't work, no critical mass audience.

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even tacitly take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

Mario Savio

rench00 said...

i don't think any of these protests would work in Singapore simply because there's no local support.

you won't need the police to stop these protesters cos pragmatic Singaporeans, when they realise that these protestors would inconvenience us, will protest against the protestors.

but honestly... as i've written on my blog before (i think i have...), it is a sad state of affairs when people need to hold public demonstratoins and protests to get their message across...

Salt * Wet * Fish said...

I sent this email to them:
**************
I refer to your campaign on boycott Singapore.

http://www.foei.org/about/BoycottSingapore.html

Why does Westerners like to force their values towards nations and people who don't necessarily subscribe to all your values? Why should a country or person be called repressive just because we don't think and act like you? Aren't you judging your own values as superior?

Don't Westerners know what is laws of a country and what is sovereignty? Or are they so arrogance and rude that everyone must please them if not they deserved to be punished or called repressed?

Anonymous said...

if the protests do happen, the majority of singaporeans will just be looking at these protesters and dismiss them with ni qi bao mei shi zhou ah? so boh liao. no need to go to work ah? it is also ingrained in us that the world bank and IMF are inherently good things.

maybe if we were properly enlightened on some of the reasons the protesters have though...

- k.

clyde said...

It may be a 'sad state of affairs' when people have to pour onto the streets to be heard. But it is even sadder when the voice of repression overwhelms that of free speech. Let's face it, given a political infrastructure particularly lacking a free media, how else is a government body going to hear criticism and feedback from the people. The right to publicly protest peacefully is fundamental to free expression. And the choice of people to exercise this right tells me that at least there are people willing to stand up for what they believe in rather than fall into comfortable apathy. Even IF Singaporeans were to decide that IMF protesters were an "inconvenience" (more than 4 people), it would generate at most some 'coffeeshop chatter'. Apathetic, and in this case law-abiding people, don't make good anti-protesters :)

And SaltFish, my belated advice for your letter of complaint to FOEI is:

- If you're gonna launch a verbal attack the West, at least tell them off for the Iraq war, or America's Guantanamo Bay. That's where the REAL hipocrisy lies.

- Don't make false assumptions that freedom of speech is exclusively associated with the west. The right to protest is promoted in many other Asian and eastern countries as well. Ever seen one in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia on the news?

It all boils back down to the same principles behind the support for the death penalty. You fail to see the morality for what it really is that people are criticising Singapore for, in your staunch belief that the rights of a government and sovereign nation should supercede the rights of an individual.

burgers and durians said...

While I wholeheartedly agree with Clyde and am also aggrieved by the repressive threats already being metted out by the Singapore government a full 6 months before the IMF/World Bank meetings here, I can't help but question the call to 'Boycott Singapore'.

The Singapore government and corporations may hold power, but the country is made up of people, in all their diversity. To paint an entire country with one brush is rather harsh and unfair, i think.

I also don't think it's strategic. International pressure is always important, but in the end it's the local struggle that will help make change, even if that struggle is long and hard. To make an international call to 'Boycott Singapore' is very depressing for those of us here. It denies our agency and assumes that we all think like our government and corporate heads.

Thanks for the Mario Savio quote, antipathy.

rench00 said...

now the South Koreans are frustrated with their own protesters, citing disruptions that the protests cause as serious problems.

my point about it being sad that one needs to protest to be heard is precisely that it indicates a lack of any other channels of feedback and criticism. if anything, Singapore should have more such avenues which are effective so that only unreasonable people will find it necessary to hold public protests.

Anonymous said...

Rench00:

It is no conincidence that the ST chose to print stories that fit what they want to push across. Yawn.

The issues that the activists are concerned about, do most Singaporeans have an iota of an idea what they are on about before the 'oh so pragmatic Singaporeans' tut tut them. Your point was quite lame joke, Singaporeans bothering to protest against protesters...maybe in the ST forums, all sound and fury....but oh we should not forget that the NTUC should they find it convenient, they can easily pick up the pickets and protest against the decadent western noisy protests.

clyde said...

Well, a large crowd anywhere is bound to cause disruption. Which government is going to say they are a convenience really... Gripe all they want, but at least the South Korean government hasn't denied citizens the right to protest. Bear in mind also that other countries with plenty of avenues for public discussion (media, online forums, organised meetings etc) still have people taking to the streets. Because having more avenues doesn't necessarily mean being heard more easily by the people that need to hear it. Id say the only real reason NOT to protest is when both parties finally come to a satisfied resolution.

And I think, Durian Burger, that Singaporeans shouldn't take a mass boycott too personally. So far, I have never heard critics of any background make absurd associations between the sg people and the policies of one government. If anything, they realise that an oppressed people have little say in the matter.

rench00 said...

Clyde:
you rightly pointed out that regardless of what you do, whatever channels you have, you are always going to have people whose voice is not heard via these channels. just as there are always people who, being unreasonable (i.e. like some of my students, whom you feel like wringing their necks the moment they make a noise...), will take to the streets if you give them a chance. and there are, unfortunately, enough of these unreasonable people around to cause disruption (just like some of my students whom you know you can't have more than one and a half of them in the class...).

i'm not saying that everyone who protests are unreasonable. i'm just saying that we need to provide ample avenues for reasonable people to have their voices heard and considered, enough platforms for more effective and efficient dialogue to reach what you have aptly put as coming to a final resolution.

the key word is reason. how do we include as many reasonable people in the discussion process and how can we prevent unreasonable people from hijacking the process, disrupting our progress.

Anonymous said...

I am all for SIA boycott. If you Singaporeans want to cripple your own national carrier, good for the rest of us. Snigger. People would take MAS instead!

clyde said...

So how exactly do you define a protester reasonable or not? Isn't that a very subjective label? If you disagree with their views, does that make them unreasonable? Or if we provide ample avenues of discussion to the relevant governments and organisations, would that make them any less "reasonable"?

I'm sure your students would protest spending any time in class, but we can't approach adult citizens the same way we approach kids in the classroom. It's a very familiar sense of strict conformity and authoritarian rule that the government uses and nutures in society. The first problem I see with your argument is that a student is termed "unreasonable" while not being heard for any real problems. In society, people protest much more serious issues compared to a class of mischiefs. Don't get me wrong, I can sympathise with your position as a teacher, but I just don't believe our attitude in the classroom should be applied to a general population. People should have the right to protest no matter what their views. Which is why I say it is fundamental to free speech.

For the latter question, I find it highly unrealistic where a protest can finally be deemed "unreasonable" for any given number of communication avenues. A large-scale dialogue is never efficient in reality no matter how many means to communicate. Whether you're against a war, animal testing, death penalty etc, governments and organisations rarely do the right thing, or come to agreement. As long as there are differences of opinions, the people without the power to make changes are always going to make themselves heard. They show support for their cause. They spread awareness, and personally I feel they are a vital indicator to a society with a healthy dose of free expression.

Anonymous said...

Well, all in one word, if sg garmen could be more open and could truly listen to what the citizens' pointviews and opinions, such kind of protests is not needed at all thru int'l pressure. However, this is only if that the garmen is sensitive enough and is willing to change their style of ruling so that liberals wouldn't have to crave for all kinds of alternatives to voice out.

James said...

Singapore,s caning threats don,t scare me.They are bully threats which make me more determined to protest.With so much media present what a chance to get our message to the world.If I get arrested and caned,well be it.