14 Sep 2006

Singapore police probe three for IMF protest plan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Three Singaporeans who were planning to distribute flyers criticizing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank were detained and their computers were seized, police said on Thursday.

Police said they received a tip-off that three Singaporeans may cause "disturbances" at the convention center where the IMF and World Bank meetings are being held, and then traced the identity of the men "as a security precaution."

The trio were called for questioning on Wednesday.

"Some pamphlets concerning IMF-related issues and some computer hardware have been seized for investigation," police spokesman Mohamed Razif said.

The move comes after the World Bank's sharp criticism of Singapore's tough restrictions on civil society groups. The city state has refused to relax a longstanding ban on public demonstrations during the Sept 11-20 meetings.

Razif said they were investigating the case of the three men under the Printing and Processing Materials Act.

The act states that those who possess materials which contain "any incitement to violence or counseling disobedience to the law," would be jailed for up to three years or fined, or both.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah... the Printings and Materials Possession Act. That's a new one, how very creative.

Anonymous said...

WORLD BANK BACKS CIVIL SOCIETY REPRESENTATIVES IN SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, September 14, 2006 — The civil society presence at this year's
Annual Meetings of the World Bank/IMF in Singapore is expected to be the
largest ever, with nearly 600 civil society representatives from 68 countries
accredited. In this context, the World Bank today vowed to continue its
support to a small number of civil society representatives who are being denied
entry into Singapore by the Singaporean government despite being accredited by
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as their respective
governments, to participate in the World Bank-International Monetary Fund
Annual Meetings scheduled next week.

"The decision by the Government of Singapore to deny the entry of several CSO
representatives is most unfortunate," World Bank Country Director for the
Philippines Joachim von Amsberg said in a message to Philippine civil society
members sent from Singapore. Mr. von Amsberg noted that many of those who were
denied entry to Singapore are from the Philippines. Many of these civil society
leaders have been active in meetings and dialogues with the World Bank. "For
many years, we have been meeting with them, inside and outside of our office,
and we are not aware of the reasons why these CSO leaders should be denied
access to the World Bank-IMF Annual Meeting," he said. He also added that a
number of them have even gone to Singapore last March to join preparatory
workshops for the Annual Meetings.

Mr. von Amsberg said that to this very moment, the World Bank, at the highest
level, continues to appeal to the Singapore Government to allow entry to the
CSO representatives who have been cleared by their respective governments.

Even as the appeal is going on, Mr. von Amsberg promised to continue working
with civil society organizations at the country level, where he said the World
Bank Office in Manila has a great deal of engagement with civil society, both
on policies and project implementation. The World Bank Office in Manila has
held a series of consultations with civil society members, long before the
Annual Meeting, and both parties agreed to continue the engagement beyond the
Annual Meetings.

In his message to Philippine CSOs, Mr. von Amsberg said, "For me, civil society
organizations are key partners for development and poverty reduction. We have
gone a long way and we have managed to engage, even though our views differ on some issues."

Mr. von Amsberg also noted that in the series of seminars organized by the CSO
community around the world during the Annual Meetings, many presentors and
speakers are coming from the Philippines. "This clearly indicates how
sophisticated and mature our CSOs from the Philippines are," Mr. von Amsberg
said.

Earlier, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz expressed regrets over the
decision of the Singaporean government. When asked by BBC to comment on the
blocked entry of more than a dozen civil society representatives, Mr. Wolfowitz
said, "I think it is very bad and I hope the Singapore authorities will change
their minds and allow the people in that we've accredited. I think it's
important for the World Bank and IMF to have a strong dialogue with civil
society. You talked about being outmoded, and I talked about big changes, and I
think a big change is that we need to hear from civil society. We may not agree
but it is important to have that."