Friday, September 15, 2006

Singapore breaks protest deal

Singapore has been accused by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for going-back on an explicit agreement to allow activists into their annual meeting. From BBC:
The World Bank said it was "very displeased" with Singapore's decision to bar 28 activists from the country.

The Bank and IMF argue the presence of pressure groups is key to improving the work of financial institutions.

Singapore says it has banned the activists as they have taken part in "disruptive protests" in other nations.

"The most unfortunate thing is what appears to be a going-back on an explicit agreement," World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz told about 50 activists in Singapore ahead of the annual meetings...

The institutions added that they were particularly unhappy with the bans as they had signed an open access agreement in 2003.
Here's another statement by World Bank chief and Singapore's response to allegations that it broke an agreement with the IMF and World Bank. From Washington Post:
"We have accredited these individuals based on clearance by their respective governments and we believe they should be able to participate in our meetings."

Wolfowitz had said earlier that he hoped the ban on the activists was not a case of censorship, adding that it might be in breach of a 2003 agreement with the city-state.

But the Singapore 2006 committee said the memorandum of understanding signed between IMF/WB and the Singapore government "obliges Singapore to take all necessary measures for the safe passage of all persons in and out of Singapore."

It said the government takes this duty seriously in view of the international security environment.
Meanwhile, charities are now threatening to boycott the IMF and World Bank meeting because of the ban on Singapore protests. They have also blamed the World Bank for holding the meetings in Singapore. From The Independent:
Martin Powell, of the UK's World Development Movement, who was one of the 28 banned activists, said: "The World Bank and the IMF knew about Singapore's appalling record on dissent and public assembly and they ignored warnings as this is not the first time this has happened."

Max Lawson, a policy adviser at Oxfam, said it was joining 14 other bodies including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth International in pulling out of 40 public meetings. "The Singapore government should have allowed in those who were accredited," he said.

Olivia McDonald, a senior policy officer at Christian Aid, said: "I get the feeling that having it in Singapore is about the businesses and the banks and if there's not the same access for civil society groups that leaves a question mark hanging over the validity of the meetings."
Another charity, Christian Aid is also calling for a boycott. From Reuters:
'This is an extremely disappointing development by the Singaporean authorities,' said John McGhie, Christian Aid's Campaigns Editor. 'We are now keen to lend our full support to the international call for an immediate boycott of all formal talks with either the Bank or the Fund in Singapore. It would be a travesty to hold cosy chats with their officials while so many of our colleagues are being denied entry to the country...'

'It is farcical for the Bank and the Fund to meet and discuss human rights in a country where human rights are restricted. It shows how out of step with reality they are and underscores our argument that the UK government should withdraw funding from both the IMF and the World Bank. These organisations are illegitimate because they seek to impose damaging conditions on loans. It is high time they reformed, 'said Anna Thomas, Christian Aid's senior policy manager.

13 comments:

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

I wonder if we have heard the whole story on both sides.

Rickie said...

There goes my chance to finally see a real protest in Singapore.

Shy said...

Rickie: Batam!

taypiao said...

dun think the chief wld say lies about singapore agreeing to the protests when they signed the agreement back in 2003.

Mas said...

Who says no protests?

I think today or is it yesterday, there's one protestor at Suntec.

LOL.

Anonymous said...

fuck imf! world bank!

hooray singapore!

Anonymous said...

interesting.. so singapore did agree to allow protests during the meetings but they decided not to allow it now.. mmmmm..

xXx said...

"The most unfortunate thing is what appears to be a going-back on an explicit agreement," World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz told about 50 activists in Singapore ahead of the annual meetings...

Don't be too sad. At least you can look forward to our escort girls. 'oP

ediiie said...

there's a loophole in the mou signed between sg n imf/wb.

read this:
But the Singapore 2006 committee said the memorandum of understanding signed between IMF/WB and the Singapore government "obliges Singapore to take all necessary measures for the safe passage of all persons in and out of Singapore."

that means sg can ban the protests in the name of security.

Johnny Q said...

It is funny the gahmen tells us to smile during this IMF meeting while people outside of Singapore are frowning.

Mr Big said...

From CNA:

About 30 people from various civil society organisations demonstrated at Suntec Singapore on Friday.

These groups fall under the umbrella of an organisation called Global Call To Action Against Poverty.

The organisation is the world's largest ever anti-poverty movement which mobilised 35 million people last year to take action to end poverty.

The campaigners on Friday wore surgical masks carrying the words "No Voice" and T-shirts with a message against poverty.

The silent protest at a designated zone in Suntec comes as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) hold their meetings in Singapore.

The protest was to show how poor countries do not have a say in how the World Bank and IMF are run, said the organisers.

Anonymous said...

Singapore's actions have backfired. There's so much negativity in the world's press about Singapore and damage has been done to its reputation.

Piper Lee said...

The government doesn't really care about all this negativity in the press.

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