By Norman Bordadora
Last updated 06:04pm (Mla time) 09/11/2006
FAIR trade activists in the Philippines on Monday called economic tiger Singapore an "immature state" that can't stand public debate after its government banned 20 persons and five groups from entering the territory in connection with the International Monetary Fund-World Bank (IMF-WB) conference this week.
Walden Bello, a sociologist and professor at the University of the Philippines, said the IMF and WB have actually accredited the individuals and groups banned by Singapore in its conference on, ironically, governance, corruption and transparency.
"After a long while of not having protests, Singapore conjures up images of violent protests," Bello said.
Bello, executive director of the Focus on the Global South, is one of the individuals banned by the city-state and his group, one of the organizations prohibited.
"Singapore is showing its dark side. One that does not respect civil rights, one that treats people like children," Bello said.
Bello said the IMF-WB has already sent notice to the Singaporean government that they disagree with the banning of civil society representatives that have been accredited to attend the conference scheduled September 14 to September 18.
"But the communication came from minor officials of the IMF-World Bank. We have to hear from people like(WB president) Paul Wolfowitz," Bello said.
Bello said the IMF-WB officials should also be held accountable for holding the meet in Singapore when they know fully well that the city-state does not allow any form of protest in its territory.
Also banned was the Freedom from Debt Coalition and its president Ana Maria Nemenzo.
"News has reached me in the Netherlands that I have been banned by Singapore authorities from entering their country to attend the WB-IMF Annual Meeting `based on security and law and order considerations.' This, despite my accreditation as a representative of the Freedom from Debt Coalition," Nemenzo said in a statement.