Monday, November 2, 2009

APEC - Showcase for POA

With APEC Leaders Week fast approaching, the showcast event for asia pacific might turn out to be a showcase for Singapore's new Public Order Act.

As a refresher, amendments to Public Order Act was passed in April 2009 in what many saw as an update to the law with APEC in mind. The new guidelines state that cause-related activities will be regulated, regardless of the number of persons involved. This is a move away from the previous definition of an illegal assembly (5 or more people).

The SDP has on numerous occasions in the past gathered in groups of 4 or even one to demonstarte the uneven application of this law. Obviously, the new definitions can be seen as a means to curb their campaigning. Lets not forget the standoff between police and the SDP during the IMF/WB meetings in Sinagpore on September 2007.

Expect more arrrests and detentions in days to follow....

SINGAPORE: With two weeks to go before heads of state gather for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit here, Singapore is wary about allowing the entry of well-organised civil groups and disruptive individuals bent on derailing the talks or championing their causes.

Two Falungong followers, a Malaysian and an Indonesian, were reportedly denied entry into Singapore at Changi Airport last week.

According to the Epoch Times, the sect's publication, the pair tried to enter the country separately on Oct 19 and Oct 22. The report also said the pair had previously made frequent trips to Singapore. Falungong, a religious sect, was banned in China in 1999 after it was accused of fanning social unrest.

Though it is not outlawed in Singapore, several of its followers here have been arrested for holding illegal assemblies.

When MediaCorp cited the Falungong example and asked if Singapore was keeping out individuals who might pose law-and-order problems, a spokeswoman from the APEC Singapore 2009 organising committee said all requests to enter the country would be treated fairly. "All sovereign nations have the prerogative to decide who cross their borders. Singapore is no exception," she said. "This is especially so in the current security climate, where we have a duty to ensure the safety and security of the public."

Security analyst Dr John Harrison from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies was not surprised with the entry ban related to APEC. "The (Singapore) government will get a variety of information in from all sources - open and classified - from partners in the region and around the world," he
said. "It will try and mitigate threats and risks as early as possible."

Apart from the task of keeping out people with backgrounds tied to terrorism, the authorities would have their eye on individuals who could use the event to carry out violent protests, Dr Harrison said.

Three years ago, when Singapore hosted the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting, the authorities objected to 28 foreigners - all of whom had a history of taking part in violent protests or disruptive activities at previous meetings - from being allowed into the country.

Then, civil society organisations were allowed to protest in a small corner 0f the meeting venue at Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre; large-scale protests were confined to the Indonesian island of Batam.

Observers say that unlike the IMF event to which many civil society groups were
invited, APEC's broader platform is not likely to warrant the same level of involvement and, hence, numbers of activists

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