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Wednesday, September 20, 2006 

Article from BBC: Singapore welcome raises doubts

Came across this article from BBC that I've found quite interesting, given the perspective of an outsider look into Singapore. Since there are also lots of pro-Singapore comments on local papers (why am I not surprised that those are published on local papers... =P), I am still trying to reconcile the true perception. Do let me know your views on this issue and the article. Should we or shouldn't we be so uptight over the "traditional" civil group protest?

Singapore welcome raises doubts
By Andrew Harding BBC News, Singapore

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.

The front page headline in this morning's Straits Times boasts that this is the biggest turnout ever. The delegates do have some serious business to discuss here - in particular, plans to restructure the IMF's voting system to give countries like China and Mexico more clout. But for Singapore - a tiny, humid and tightly-controlled city state - the real issue is how well it looks after its guests.

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".

Campaigners barred
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?

A number of campaigners have already been barred from entering the country. Those who have been allowed in are being carefully chaperoned. They will be allowed to protest, but only in designated indoor areas. They are also being provided with special, soft placards to wave.
Thursday's Straits Times carries a small article - tucked deep inside the newspaper - which some might argue belongs nearer the front page. The World Bank has come to its critics' defence, accusing Singapore of breaching a formal agreement by barring 28 activists from the country. In a statement, it says: "We work with these representatives of civil societies, and we value their role - even when we disagree with what they say."

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.

Hi T,

thought u used to offer insights into the cabinet thinking. anything to offer on its views on the treatment for the IMF/WB's critics, the CSO; and Wolfowitz's criticisms of Sg govt?


Hi Locky2ky

Yes, I am writing on the IMF perspective from the government now. Hope to post it over the weekend.

Thanks for your suggestion!


looking forward to your posting.

personally i don't trust Wolfowitz, he is such a hypocrite!

and i think IMF/WB must have the most blissful conference, free from the harassment from the CSO and the stupid sg govt taking all the blame.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Hi T

The conservatives in the ruling elite are really out of step with the rest of the world.

It embarrasses all of us that THEY are afraid of honest and passionate dissent.

I am no fan of CSJ, but it may be a matter of time, when he gets real sympathy from real folks!

My suspicion is that THEY are afraid that by allowing CSO's to demonstrate openly, THEY would not be able to deny locals this right ( yes it is a right)henceforth.

It is about time that THEY treat the people as adults. We are no longer children.



Hi T,
Sorry I double posted and then when I deleted one post, both got deleted also. Hope it is not some govt gremlin trying to stop me posting! ha ha

I feel that the conservatives in the govt are out of step with the rest of the world.

Their over-reaction at the recent IMF/WB meeting had been an embarrassment for all of us.

That they cannot tolerate open expressions of dissent only emphasises what anachronistic dinosaurs some of these people are!

I am no fan of CSJ, but mark my words, he will have real sympathy from real folks in no time.

It is high time, the govt have a good look at themselves and at the people.

The people have grown and are no longer children and should be treated like the adults that they are!

Cheers ( hope this post does not get black-holed!)


Hi Dr Huang

Don't worry, your post will not be censored unless self-censorship. =)

I have to differ with your thoughts on the IMF/World bank issue. But I guess there is no right or wrong in such views. Only depends on which side of the coin are you seeing the issue on. Anyway, I've posted my thoughts in the latest post.



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