9 Sep 2006

NGO ban 'will embarass Singapore'

Singapore (dpa) - Singapore's banning of 19 accredited activists from a giant world financial conference ignited predictions Saturday that the move would backfire and embarrass the city-state, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"The world will see the reality of Singapore," said Sinapan Samydorai of the Asian Forum on Human Rights and Development, with the city-state so saturated in security that members of the public will be subject to random searches.

More than 16,000 delegates from 184 countries were starting to arrive during the weekend for the September 11-20 seminars and annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank.

Members of civil society organizations (CSOs) were also expected following the government banning of 19 representatives deemed possible security threats by police despite the urgings of the IMF and World Bank to allow them to attend.

Among those prohibited was Antonio Tricarrio, coordinator of the Campaign to Reform the World Bank, who described the Singapore government's stand as a "major blow" to the two institutions and "terribly embarrassing."

The prohibition followed Singapore's refusal to comply with World Bank requests to allow outside protests and has relegated the more than 500 CSOs to two rooms in the corner of the Suntec City lobby. They will be allowed to engage delegates in front of the rooms.

Earlier this month Peter Stephens, with the World Bank's Singapore office, said the body was working to ensure that "diverse civil society voices are very much heard before, during and after the annual meetings."

In contrast, police said on Friday, "While we welcome bona fide travellers to visit Singapore during the event, those who are deemed undesirable will not be eligible for entry."

"Whether the activists, many of whom are familiar with street protests outside venues, will comply with the restrictions is unknown," Samydorai said.

More than 10,000 police and military will be on the lookout for unlawful gatherings boosted by helicopters hovering above.

Gatherings of more than four people outside without a police permit have long been banned in the city-state, determined to boost its image as a safe destination for high-profile conventions.

With the city under siege, financial firms have told their staff to go on leave or work from home to cope with the security measures, access blocks and traffic.

Giant UBS is having nearly half of its staff either go on leave or work from other sites, including their homes and even overseas offices. The bank is asking staff to work in shifts.

The government has spent 60 million US dollars on the event since it was awarded the bid six years ago.

"UBS's approach to contingency arrangements is based on pragmatic measures designed to minimize the logistical issues of getting staff to and from the Suntec area," The Business Times quoted chief operating officer Teo Lay Sie as saying.

UBS employs nearly 1,800 people in the city-state, with the vast majority at Suntec city.

At Kim Eng Securities, executive vice-president Tan Pei San said more staff than usual are taking leave during the IMF/World Bank meetings.

Other staff of the securities firm have been encouraged to work staggered hours.

"We can't stagger hours of our trading staff," he told the newspaper.

Despite the measures banks and businesses are taking in the Suntec City area, they do not want to deter customers.

"The measures we have established will provide the environment for us to ensure it is business as usual," Teo said.

To minimize clients' inconvenience, UBS has informed them to avoid coming to the Suntec area as access is expected to be very difficult.

Retailers in the area are hoping the delegates and their spouses will compensate for the drop in local shoppers and are offering tempting discounts.

"There may be some difference in the number of shoppers because the security arrangements will cut out drivers from entering the Suntec area, but we hope that the delegates will make up for it," Alan Tan, OSIM's head of marketing said.

OSIM will have 12 of its massage chairs ready to soothe weary delegates at the meeting, Tan said.

Someone else is also embarassed by Singapore.
The move by Singapore was especially embarrassing for the bank’s president, Paul D. Wolfowitz, who has made his appeals for proper “governance” a cornerstone of his 15 months at the bank and called on poor countries around the world to strengthen the role of nongovernment organizations.


antipathy said...


WB and IMF knew full well what they were going into when they picked Singapore to host. Stop shedding ur croc tears man, u hate protestors don't u.

Anonymous said...

Actually, no. Protests are the only way their meeting can get any publicity in the overseas media.

If there are no protests, or muted ones, do you think that the international media is going to report on a boring ol' meeting of fuddy-duddies discussing numbers?

Would you read such a report if printed?

I know. I'm here in N America, and was here when Seattle and Sydney happened. We wouldn't have known of the meeting if not for the protests. That's the way the IMF/WB absolutely needs it.

Anonymous said...

the following quote says it all how much there is understanding and respect for each other and/or for each nation:

Quote from His Holiness D. Lama:

"As all nations are economically dependent upon one another more than ever before, human understanding must go beyond national boundaries and embrace the international community at large. Indeed, unless we can create an atmosphere of genuine cooperation, GAINED NOT BY THREATENED OR ACTUAL USE OF FORCE BUT BY HEARTFELT UNDERSTANDING, world problems will only increase. If people in poorer countries are denied the happiness they desire and deserve, they will naturally be dissatisfied and pose problems for the rich. If unwanted social, political, and cultural forms continue to be imposed upon unwilling people, the attainment of world peace is doubtful. However, if we satisfy people at a heart-to-heart level, peace will surely come.


Attempts have been made in the past to create societies more just and equal. Institutions have been established with noble charters to combat anti-social forces. Unfortunately, such ideas have been cheated by selfishness. MORE THAN EVER BEFORE, WE WITNESS TODAY HOW ETHICS AND NOBLE PRINCIPLES ARE OBSCURED BY THE SHADOW OF SELF-INTEREST, PARTICULARLY IN THE POLITICAL SPHERE.

To read further: http://www.fpmt.org/teachings/hhdlworldpeace3.asp

Anonymous said...

If D. Lama so Holy, let him save the world, lah. Crap, he can't even gain independence for his own 'country'

Anonymous said...

but he has made you speak up, so he has already made you better

Anonymous said...

but he has made him speak up in anger, so he has infact made him worse.

Anonymous said...

That he has stirred your emotions make him less credible. D. Lama is a paper bodisattva who had to run away from his own land.

Anonymous said...

As the police overreacted with the animal rights activists, expect them to overreact with any illegal protestors. Gurkhas will probably be performing anti-riot duty this time. If thhose mercenary nutters are unleashed...

Anonymous said...

forgets the protesters, the government must also weed out the foreign journalists wreiting from for of the papers who have recently been writing anti singapore material.

the other suggestion would be, let them in, arrest them and have them caned, at leave twenty four strokes each, then send them back
to teir shitty countries courtesy of singapore.

Anonymous said...

in place of Singapore is a FINE CITY t-shirt, i propose a pair of shorts with cane marks at the buttocks

Anonymous said...

picture of Fort Caning, Caning Hill, will be OK

Pro Reunification said...

As if Im not embarrass enuff when they send the whole armed and police force to capture the escape convicts from a neighbouring country..and they are in Tekong for goodness sake!

Anonymous said...

"D. Lama is a paper bodisattva who had to run away from his own land."

"he can't even gain independence for his own 'country'"

For your info, by the fact that D. Lama and his people who have been suffering so much during these years of exile without showing any violence in return is indeed showing the world how tolerant and patience they are. These are virtues!! Put yourself in the shoes of them and see how would you react if Sg had been conquered by a communist country and all Singaporeans have to be tortured and forced to flee from your own country?

In fact, D. Lama has constantly advised his people not to react with violence and be patient with the Chinese govt, ok? And the world has recognised D. Lama's non-violence good attitude and to work for world peace and harmony. He was nominated as a Nobel Peace Laureaute.

If the Chinese govt does not want to practise human rights and refuse to settle problem in a satisfactory manner through dialogue sessions with D. Lama, it is the fault of one party alone.

Anonymous said...

I think the guy was asking why Dalai Lama has no divine power to solve problems

Dalai claims none; unlike Mr Li of Falungong; his failure to zap the communist party leaders and rescue his followers, has disappointed me... however, his followers dont seem to mind; they like to suffer...

soci said...

I think the important thing to focus on here is that yet again when the worlds media points its lense in the direction of Singapore it turns into a global 'Public Relations' disaster.

Very little of this bad press is actually appearing in the Straits Times or on CNA so the majority of the population remains cocooned in PAP engineered ignorance.

A question needs to be asked even if it does not receive a response from those in power.

Who is in charge of the image management on the world stage? Yes internally the control is almost absolute but the management of the external image is out of control.

The IMF have already stated that what is happening in Singapore will impact on their future choice of country they hold the meetings in. Read this as 'we will not be holding it in Singapore again, or other similarly repressive states'.

I am sure that many will respond by ignoring any criticism and dismissing those complaints as unwarrented according to 'our different value system'. Stability and order are of prime importance to all states but at what point does stability and order become 'stagnation'?

And as for the above comment to remove foreign journalists who paint a bad image of Singapore - they are merely providing a respresentation of the situation before them.

A stagnant city state that used to feel that it was going somewhere, the place to be. Developing, changing and moving forward and up - has become stability and order, protect what we have. Risk adverse from the top with Lee Hsien Loong to the man and woman on the street afraid to demand basic human rights.

The population of Singapore appears to be cowed into submission not just the 'workforce'.

Anonymous said...

in fact very few papers in the west has bothered to discuss the banning of demos; I would guess editors are busy admiring tourist facilities and commercial opportunities

Matilah_Singapura said...

>A stagnant city state that used to feel that it was going somewhere, the place to be. Developing, changing and moving forward and up - has become stability and order, protect what we have. Risk adverse from the top with Lee Hsien Loong to the man and woman on the street afraid to demand basic human rights.

Soci, that is a tad extreme, and incorrect. IMO, the "basic human (read: INDIVIDUAL) rights" are the right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of "happiness".

Whilst the S'pore STATE shits over this — to a degree, it isn't any "worse" than any western democracy. ALL STATES interfere with the people, and limit what an individual can do. Whilst the limitations on property crime, bodily harm and murder are warranted, the state's limitations on other areas of human activity are not. For e.g. labour and individual enterprise: in western democracies these are heavily regulated and taxed.

The population of Singapore appears to be cowed into submission not just the 'workforce'.

If so, can you explain the serious amount of private wealth ensconced in S'pore territory?

How on earth did that happen?

Anonymous said...

anon 10.17 must be talking through his singapore arse. most of the world's heavy papers, FT, Guardian, Washington Post, HT, NY times, have written in length about singapore and the bans. the wires, Reuters, AFP, AP etc have sent screeds of information aross the airwaves.
so anon go back to your shithouse and pick mup a bit of senses before you write again.

Anonymous said...

keep counting; clever kid knows arithmetic...

Anonymous said...

"barring of 20 of the 500 people representing NGOs accredited by the two international financial institutions," which "Singapore had promised to faciliate the entry of accredited representatives under the memorandum of understanding with us," a World Bank official said.

"Although demonstrations at past annual meetings have sometimes turned violent, RECENT YEARS' PROTESTS HAVE BEEN PEACEFUL.

The whole meeting is likened to throwing some wedding dinner in a prestigous hotel in an extremely civilised country like Sg.

The hosts (IMF/World Bank) had already decided who to invite for this dinner. However, the prestigous hotel (Singapore), for fear of riots and so forth, has over-right the hosts' decision to invite certain hosts' friends and relatives to this dinner.

In this scenario, do the prestigous hotel has the right to over-right the decision of the hosts which the hotel feels these friends and relatives of the hosts could be "barbaric people" who would stir up some riots, etc?

Believe the hosts know it well whether their relatives/friends are "barbaric ppl" or not before they would extend their invitation to them, isn't it?

So, the prestigous hotel is "immature" in their thinking. Afterall the hotel is at all times prepared with all the security measures and so forth, why is it they are so fearful? Isn't this very kiasu? How could such hotel improve its image to become first world-class to attract more business?

Rather, the hotel looks like it is putting its horse before the cart! Isn't this embarrassing?

lee hsien tau said...

Unauthorised anti-corruption probe, Feb 1997

'D' Division

Subject: Soh Wai Wah
Rank: ASP (currently Chief of Staff)

Subject is married, childless.
Subject lives at unit of Leedon Heights condo at junction of Holland Rd and Farrer Rd.
Subject owns no other property and does not appear to have excessive sources of income.

Subject: Jaswant Singh
Rank: Unknown

17 Singapore residents share the same name, from court officials to factory workers. However, only subject is a policeman.
Subject appears to hold junior rank.
Subject appears well-connected and to have excessive sources of income.
Subject holds directorships in countless security related companies and a number of properties including a bungalow along Mountbatten Rd.

Investigation suspended due to arrest. Of the two subjects, number 2 holds promise. Probe to resume when situation permits, like when there's a regime change.