Article from BBC: Singapore welcome raises doubts
Singapore welcome raises doubts
Sometimes the adverts can be as revealing as the front pages.
This week some of Singapore's newspapers have been teeming with new recruitment ads put in by the city's many escort agencies. They're all busily hunting for what they describe as "young, outgoing girls... in their twenties".
The apparent hiring frenzy has been triggered by the arrival of some 24,000 visitors - all coming to town this week with just one thing on their minds... the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Citizens are being urged to smile. To make sure the delegates respond in kind, they're being offered discounts on botox injections and other beauty treatments. An article in the New Paper urges visitors to venture out of their convention centre and discover the city's secrets, declaring that there is much more to this place than "rules, laws and squeaky clean streets".
But it is Singapore's laws which are in danger of overshadowing this week's meeting. It is illegal here for more than four people to demonstrate together outside. So what to do with the many thousands of international activists who usually congregate at such events?
More criticism has come from one of Singapore's tiny opposition parties. In an open letter, the Democratic Party has accused the authorities of stifling dissent, behaving like despots. What is more, the party has thrown down a direct challenge, vowing to go ahead with a big outdoor protest this Saturday, and inviting all the visiting delegates to come along and see what happens.