I'm not as mean as I look...
I can't say I'm surprised at the public relations disaster S2006 is turning out to be. All 4,000,000 smiles can't ease the pain of 28 banned activists. The surprise really is why neither the host country nor the organisers saw this coming when they settled on Singapore way back when. Given our legendary pigheadedness in sticking to our guns, why even take the risk? Has everyone - on either side - forgotten Michael Fay?? Singapore should consider it has lost more than it's gained from this overhyped meeting (which for the rest of us basically means we stay away from suntec city the next week and for shops in that area unmitigated disaster.)
Anyway, three thoughts come to mind as foreign dignitaries and indignitaries wing their way to our shores (I hope they have the right papers!):
1. It would be impossible for the S'pore government now to reverse their stand without riling their citizens. You can't have one rule for us and one rule for foreigners. I would like to see the rules relaxed, but not this way, sorry.
2. Activists need to get out of confrontation mode, sometimes. Is compromise such a dirty word? Is there no other way to engage the Establishment than by disruptive outdoor protests promsing the potential of violence (is that wanking or what)?
3. It's not right for august institutions like the IMF or World Bank to pressure the host nation. That is merely making political capital for oneself.
As for the 28 activists... I feel their pain. It was heavyhanded and overly cautious, of course, but pretty typical. It won't be the first time they haven't been treated with courteous respect, and Singapore won't be the first - or last - country to exercise its right over who to admit to its sovereign shores.
Let's hope the security sideshow won't overshadow all else, including the IMF and World Bank's own problems. Sadly, many will go away smug in the knowledge that Singapore is a police state. The short answer to that is that of course we are, and yet we are so much more too...