What is the IMF and World Bank doing in Singapore apart from undermining any argument they had that they wish to encourage civil society groups to engage with them?
Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Wednesday August 30, 2006
Singapore- Security has been tightened in Singapore ahead of a major international conference, with a warning issued Thursday that police will take all appropriate measures against protestors threatening the life or health of others, including the use of firearms. More than 10,000 police officers are working with the military and other agencies to ensure the largest international gathering ever held in the city-state - hosted by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank from September 13 to 20 - goes without a hitch.
"If anybody behaves in a way that threatens the life of another or threatens serious injury to another, then the police will use all necessary means to prevent that from happening," The Straits Times quoted Senior Assistant Commissioner Aubeck Kam as saying.
"In appropriate situations, this may extend to the use of firearms and the possibility of death," he said.
"We will not entertain any notion of allowing groups of people to gather and form into larger and larger groups," he added.
The public has also been advised to expect random checks at shopping centres, commercial buildings and transit points.
Sixteen-thousand delegates are due to attend the conference and run-up meetings.
Despite the World Bank's call for advocates of different causes to be allowed at outside venues, police reiterated the only venue for engagement with the delegates is a section of the lobby in Suntec City, where the meetings will be held.
"We are prepared to deal with protesters in a firm, decisive, but fair manner," Kam said.
Additional police are coming to help from Indonesia, the Antara News Agency reported.
A warning on Australia's travel advisory Web site cited potential civil unrest and political tension in the city-state.
"Penalties include heavy fines and imprisonment," the Australian government said in advising its citizens.
Thousands of protestors have indicated they will confine their activities to the Indonesian island of Bintan, a short ferry ride away from Singapore, where authorities warned earlier that violent protesters could be caned.
Only 400 people from groups outside Singapore will be allowed at Suntec City to assure that the scenario at last December's World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong is not repeated. Police had fired tear gas at violent protest groups and arrested more than 1,000 people.
Apart from plainclothes police officers, video cameras and air force helicopters will also monitor crowds. Officers armed with intelligence from foreign police forces have started looking out for known troublemakers at immigration checkpoints.
The ongoing security sweep caps more than five years of planning and rehearsals, which started in 2001 after Singapore was selected as host city for this year's IMF/World Bank session.
"We examined security street by street, floor by floor of all the venues affected," Kam said.
© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur