Singapore blocks pro-democracy march

Bangkok Post
16 Sep 06

Singapore police thwarted on Saturday a group of pro-democracy activists from marching to the convention centre where the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Work Bank were holding their annual meeting.

Opposition politician Chee Soon Juan and a handful of other Singaporeans were prevented from leaving a park where they had gathered.

Chee had planned to match past Parliament House, the Suntec City convention centre and hold a rally calling for the rights to assembly and free speech.

Police said earlier they would prevent activists from disrupting the meeting.

Outdoor rallies and other gatherings of more than four people require a permit in Singapore, which Chee did not have.

The park was crowded with observers listening to Chee call for more freedom. He and his colleagues wore T-shirts saying, “Face Freedom Now” and “Democracy.”

Chee’s move followed the government’s lifting of a ban on 22 out of 27 foreign activists accredited by the IMF and World Bank for the meetings. The government had viewed them as security risks.

Hundreds of activists, including most of the 27, are in the Indonesian island of Batam for a forum.

The civil society organizations (CSOs) opted for the island near Singapore after the city-state prohibited the gathering as well as all outdoor activities.