Friday, September 08, 2006

Propaganda & dirty politicking heats-up as IMF-World Bank meetings approach

First a report by AFP published today..............

Singapore under fire as World Bank-IMF protest

Furious activists accused Singapore of leaning on Indonesia to ban a conference that was meant to coincide with World Bank-IMF annual meetings in the wealthy city-state.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also alleged a blacklist against campaigners by Singapore, a day after senior officials at the Bank and International Monetary Fund issued their own letter of protest.

IMF external relations director Masood Ahmed and his Bank counterpart, Kevin Kellems, said Wednesday they were "very surprised and disappointed" by Singapore's decision to forbid entry to several NGO members.

"While we understand and agree that security at the meetings is of paramount importance, Singapore's authorities have not shared any information that would make us ... consider these individuals as potential threats," they said.

"Blocking entry of any of these individuals into the country, or into the annual meetings venue, would undermine engagement with civil society."

About 20 NGO members who were already accredited by the World Bank and IMF to attend the September 19-20 annual meetings have now been "blacklisted" without explanation, campaigners alleged.

The letter from the World Bank and IMF officials underscored that Singapore, as the host, had agreed to abide by the organisations' promises of access to NGO representatives.

But Sameer Dossani, executive director of the 50 Years is Enough Network, which campaigns for the "profound transformation" of the World Bank and IMF, said the Washington bodies should not be surprised.

"If the Bank is interested in accountability and preventing corruption, why are they holding their meetings in a police state that has openly said it plans to cane protestors?" he said.

Dossani's group was among signatories to a press release that accused Indonesia of revoking police permission for a gathering of NGOs that is traditionally held alongside the annual meetings.

They said that months of planning had gone into the "International People's Forum" (IPF), which would have drawn over 1,000 participants to the Indonesian island of Batam, a short ferry ride from Singapore.

Batam was chosen after Singaporean authorities made clear that the conference would not be welcome in Singapore itself.

"Everything was moving forward just fine until two weeks ago when we started making press statements, and the Singapore authorities immediately put pressure on the authorities in Batam to stop this (IPF) from happening," Dossani said.

The campaign groups noted that Batam's economy relies heavily on Singaporean tourists, while Singapore is a major investor in Indonesia itself.

Bank Information Center, which campaigns for "social justice" in countries where the World Bank and IMF do business, said Singapore's zero tolerance for dissent made a mockery of the annual meetings.

"The crackdown on civil society highlights the irony of the Bank's choice to hold its meetings in a place as repressive as Singapore while claiming to be a champion of good governance," said Center executive director Manish Bapna.

"As authorities are denying public rights to freedom of speech and assembly, the Bank is commending Singapore as the world's most business-friendly country," he said.

In an annual report this week, the World Bank said Singapore was the planet's easiest place to start and operate a business.

Singapore has mounted its biggest-ever security operation to secure the 16,000 delegates from more than 180 countries expected to attend this year's World Bank-IMF meetings.

Aubeck Kam, director of the Singapore Police Force operations department, vowed last week that his officers would "use all necessary means" to stop any violence.
FYI: A late night report by local pro-govt broadcaster CNA on the "Police firm on banning undesirable groups from IMF/WB meetings". There also seems to be different versions of the above AFP report. Here's one. But the message is essentially the same: The police state is screwing-up alot of things big time for all the world to see. What is unfortunate is the fact that most Singaporeans are either oblivious, ignorant or just don't give a damn at all. And we have our pro-govt "nation building" media to thank for that.

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And here's another classic example of that phrase "There are no journalists in Singapore. Only propagandists"..............
Old pros at protests do it all for camera

SHIELDS, batons, water cannons, pepper spray and intimidating uniforms taking on the defenceless protester.

By Faith Teo, The New Paper

07 September 2006

SHIELDS, batons, water cannons, pepper spray and intimidating uniforms taking on the defenceless protester.

Don't be fooled by that image of cruel policemen beating them up.

This is the response those people, feigning pain, are trained to achieve.

They can be seen in action during the IMF-World Bank meetings. But they are not genuine protesters who are passionate about the cause they are upholding.

Meet the 'professional victim', a term used by an American anti-riot expert.

Mr Robert Taylor, formerly a police officer in Washington DC, trains the police on various law enforcement skills, including crowd control.

TRAVEL

'Professional victims travel from event to event to cause trouble. They claim that they are getting exposure for their organisations or causes, but in fact it's all about them.

'These people make names for themselves as protesters. They become famous because of it.

'It's all about their egos and they see themselves as celebrities. They will protest against anything and everything. But if the media isn't present, you won't find them there.'

They sometimes double up as trainers of less experienced locals. They teach them rioting tactics. With 24 years of experience, Mr Taylor has seen his fair share of tricks by these protesters.

'They like to disrupt traffic, and if someone incites them, they'll get violent, breaking down barriers and blockades.

'They'll throw anything from rocks to packets of urine and faeces at law enforcers.

'They might handcuff themselves and plonk themselves on the road, have mass sit-ins, appear in areas that they are not supposed to be in, enter buildings and lock themselves in, anything they can think of.'

Their aim is to make it as difficult as possible for the police to remove them.

Said Mr Taylor: 'There's a trick I've often seen, where they form a human chain by sticking their arms into pipes and handcuffing or chaining their hands together inside the pipes.

'It takes a long time for police to cut through these pipes and chains, and that is the protesters' aim.'

To gain sympathy, these protesters like to play victim, said Mr Taylor.

He said: 'These protesters will always say that they have been treated badly by the police, that the police started it, that they have been hurt. They like to parade their injured.

'But they have had more than fair warning. They have been advised or ordered to disperse and leave the vicinity, they know the rules, what not to do, what time to leave by. They are not victims.'

Mr Tom Archambault, another American who has trained police officers for more than 20 years, has been commander or observer at high-profile riot situations, including at World Trade Organisation and G-8 meetings.

He told The New Paper about the general rules of engagement he trains police to practise, a system he calls 'ask-advise-order'.

'Police everywhere will do everything they can to end a confrontation peacefully, until they exhaust all verbal communication possibilities.

'At the first stage, protesters are asked to leave the area because they are not supposed to be there. If they don't listen, they are advised to leave or face police action.

'The final warning comes as an order, where protesters are ordered to leave within a certain time frame or face removal by force.'

While many protests start peacefully, they may escalate into full-blown riots when protesters are incited.

CONTAGIOUS

'Agitation is very contagious, and trained instigators rile people up easily,' said Mr Archambault.

While we cannot reveal police counter-tactics for security reasons, both experts said that the police are trained and ready for any problem.

For the IMF-World Bank meetings here from 11 to 20 Sep, outdoor protests are banned. There will be a designated area within the convention venue for registered protesters to congregate.

Mr Taylor advised the public not to stay on and watch the protests out of curiosity because they might be caught in a quickly escalating violent situation.

Police spokesman Toh Boon Ngee also said: 'People who find themselves in the middle of or close to a violent demonstration or other protest actions should quickly move away from the scene for their own safety.'

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Ready for action

FOR the upcoming IMF-World Bank meetings from 11 to 20 Sep, the Special Operations Command's Police Tactical Troop will be using its new anti-riot vehicles (PTTVs).

The PTTVs, each carrying up to 20 men, have high-definition video cameras mounted on them. The cameras are controlled from inside the custom-made vehicles and can zoom in to record individual faces and movement in the crowd.

The 10-tonne PTTVs are designed to mount road kerbs and small obstacles, and the air quality inside is protected by special filters.

The men's all-black uniform protects them from projectiles, hits, and potentially harmful fluids.
I don't dispute the fact that there are some protesters as described in the TNP report. But not ALL of them are like that and not ALL protests are violent and unruly.

But since our "nation building" local media takes its cue from its master, the PAP government, only the government's view will be put across. And in colour with graphics to boot! Those who read yesterday's edition would have seen colourful drawings depicting these "professional victims" accompanying the report.

Well, that's local journalism for you....i mean, local propaganda. And there'll be more of such propaganda in the days to come.

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