13 Sep 2006

Singapore puts the squeeze on protesters at IMF meet

Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:51 AM ET

[My SketchBook]

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The most jam-packed event at this year's International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting in Singapore could end up being an indoor protest.

If all 487 civil rights activists registered for the annual meeting want to use the space marked off for protest, they will have to stand very, very close together.

The much talked-about protest area -- Singapore's only concession to its ban on demonstrations in the city -- measures about 8 by 8 metres (26 by 26 feet).

Red and green tape neatly section off the area at the back entrance of the cavernous convention center where the meetings' nearly 24,000 delegates will congregate.

At the official start of the meeting on Wednesday, the protest area was conspicuously empty, surrounded by officials and police.

Civil rights activists said they were shocked that the area was so small.

"At the WTO meeting in Hong Kong there was no designated area. We could march in the streets," Lee Chen Chen of ActionAid International, an NGO that fights world poverty, told Reuters.

"What is happening here is very bad PR for Singapore," said Lee, a Singaporean national who works in Cambodia.

To make their point, civil rights groups plan to use the square on Saturday to protest against not being allowed to protest, and will demonstrate quietly with gags over their mouths.

Police routinely deny applications for street demonstrations in Singapore. Public speeches are only allowed in designated places during election campaigning or, after registration, at an outdoor "speakers' corner" which was fashioned after the one in London's Hyde Park and situated next to a police post.

Orators at speakers' corner in Singapore rarely attract a crowd.

Nonetheless, opposition politician Chee Soon Juan plans to use the venue on Saturday. Police have rejected Chee's request for a permit to stage a protest march, which is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and to make its way to Suntec City, according to the Web site of Chee's Singapore Democratic Party.


Anonymous said...

two guys from philippines, not on the official banned list, were stopped at the airport; they wanted to take boat to batam

Matilah_Singapura said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matilah_Singapura said...

Picture 1
"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." - H.L. Mencken

Picture 2

"Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen." - Frederich Nietzsche

Anonymous said...

protest against not being allowed to protest? and do so by a gag over the mouth? sigh...whats the point. you'll probably get a few media reporting on it. That NGO came to discuss on issues with IMF. Since there's a boycott, just dont waste time.

This is what IMF intended to do by agreeing to hold the meetings in Singapore. Might as well forget it, regroup, and send your messages at their next meeting.

- Aygee

Pro Reunification said...

Squeeze? Not a problem, I use the bus and mrt everyday.