28 Jul 2006

Singapore to ban outdoor protests at IMF meeting

(Updated 05:15 p.m.)


Singapore will not allow outdoor demonstrations during the upcoming annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank, but will set up an indoor venue for registered civil groups, the police chief of staff announced Friday.

Soh Wai Wah told a news conference that outdoor protests during the Sept. 11-20 meetings would compromise security, could be exploited by terrorists, and disrupt the day-to-day activities of the area, making things "unpleasant" for residents.

"In the current security climate, the priority is to ensure the safety and security of our residents, visitors and delegates to the meetings," Soh said.

But in recognition of the IMF/WB's tradition of "constructive engagement" with accredited civil society organizations, Singapore will set up a private area in the lobby of the conference venue for these groups to gather and engage with delegates.

"The police recognize the importance of the participation of civil security organizations in the event. We have made maximum effort to facilitate their involvement, within the framework of our laws," Soh said. "However, we are unable to waive the current rules which prohibit outdoor demonstrations and processions, so as not to compromise security."

Under national law, permits are required for any outdoor gathering of more than four people, Singaporean or foreigner, amounting to an effective ban on protests and demonstrations. Singaporeans can freely hold indoor meetings without a permit as long as the topic does not deal with race or religion. Foreign groups or foreign speakers must apply for a permit.

Soh said the civil groups must be accredited by the World Bank to gain access to the indoor venue.

The police official said Singapore was mobilizing its entire police force and its police national service to provide 24-hour security for the meetings, which are expected to gather 16,000 delegates and visitors. Security measures would include aerial monitoring of the venue and screening of visitors to the country.

"If any laws will be broken, the police will not hesitate to take firm and fair action to prosecute or to arrest any individuals. The action that we take will be proportionate to the actions of any lawbreakers," Soh said.

Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said earlier this year that Singapore could use severe punishments _ such as caning _ against protesters who commit violent acts such as vandalism, arson or causing harm during the IMF meetings.


ycbi said...

Singaporeans can freely hold indoor meetings without a permit as long as the topic does not deal with race or religion. " AND GAY SEX "

As alway its typicle PAP bollocks . no wonder the IMF wanted to meet in Singabloodypore.

firefly said...

One important question. Where are the places that can be used for demonstrations. And, (this is typically Singaporean) do we have to register? :s

soci said...

Actually you have to register or rather be accredited by the World Bank. Meaning that you have to go to their site and register that you are a civil group.

You must register through the Civil Society [http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/CSO/0,,pagePK:220469~theSitePK:228717,00.html] website if you are a representative of:

Non-governmental organization ( NGO) or
Local community group
Labor union
Indigenous group
Think Tank
Charitable organization
Faith-based organization
Professional association

Matilah_Singapura said...

Magic stuff. Someone might have listened to me.

I complained that I as a citizen had my rights to go about my business peacefully and found it objectionable that I would have to suffer traffic disruptions, increased police presence and all sorts of inconveniences for a bunch of bums to make some point—which they can make in the blogsphere or on the net.

By doing so, I can choose to "participate" in their "protest", and am not forced to be a part of it. (hey, who has time??)

Thank god at least some rationality is still there.


Anonymous said...

how convenient, indoor protesting... would they have aircon ?

alex said...

how convenient, indoor protesting... would they have aircon?

Of course, there's even a buffet too!

Anonymous said...

as an interested outsider, I uncderstand singapore's puny police force has spent a week playing with 50 mock demonstrators.

One wanders what the hell would they do if they faced five or six hundred twenty stone French dockers willing to rip those silly little chinks heads off and piss on the remains.

come on singapore get real, you have never faced an angry mob of western demonstrators howling for your blood.

And if you lose your bottle and happen to shoot a few people, Singapore that's the end, you may as well brind down the curtain.

Its like excercises against make believe terrorist attacks, until you are hit by the real thing, nothing in this world will prepare for the real thing.

Kim said...

French dockers ?

I think the Koreans beat them all in their world famous contentious and aggressive approach to labour relations.

My Korean friends tell me that at their Korean Universities it is like a passage of rites to get involved in demonstrations and strikes with baseball bats, wet clothes (to block off the tear gas); helmets/hats,paddings; etc... It is like a war zone with so many casualties.

During the HK World meet, the damages and injuries were mainly caused by Korean farmers.!!!

And of course, the annual Japanese strikes and fights with the police.

And the Taiwanese strikes (incl those in Parliament - hitting at women MPs, too ).

We hope that this is NOT our culture to be like these people.

Singapore culture is far from the contentious East Asians, isn't it ?

Though we are east (SE Asian)Asians ourselves, but we are different, I hope !

Anonymous said...

i shall be down there in suntec city with my little camera taking snaps of the punch ups, and selling the photos to the wire companies.

Anonymous said...

anon 8.28: I think you are mistaken about the lack of riot control capability; last time it was in action was after the 1997 election when the crown got rowdy leaving an opposition rally; it was a pretty impressive operation

the control will take several layers (I learn these from reading newspaper):

1. some will be refused entry at the airport; there will be a fairly long list of Falungong people, those who were at Davos, hongkong; in fact last time HK did stop a number of people from entering and the press blamed china

2. ordinary police will be highly visible around the venues; small gatherings will be nipped in the bud

3. riot police will be deployed only if something gets out of hand; they are assisted by plain clothes men who mingle with the crowd and remember the demo leaders, who will be arrested first leaving the crowd unsure what to do next

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon 8:28

>"come on singapore get real, you have never faced an angry mob of western demonstrators howling for your blood."

You are absolutely correct. As a rabble-loathing, peace loving profiteering globalised taxpayer I'm going to suggest to the cops 2 things:

1 Random urine tests at Changi airport

2 The use of live ammunition on demonstrators who'd presume to exercise "mob justice"

No doubt there'll be howls of protests from many folks, but the folks who *really matter* — i.e. the people with REAL capital will applaud.

Foreign investment is direcetly rpoportional to the effectiveness of the rule of law. Business people LOVE law and order—why? so that they can make money without disruption.

I live here, I pay taxes, therefore I have rights too and I will fucking exercise them.

so nuts to you :-)

Anonymous said...

interesting, but I do hope the singapore police will not lose their little heads when they find the demonstators just too difficult to handle and decide to shoot.

Unless they black out all press released and imprison the hundred of international journalists covering the conference, the publicity will be enough to sink the Island.