29 June, 2006

World Bank Seeks Singapore Protests

Security is always a concern for global trade and economic organizations, however the World Bank has decided that Singapore is a little too secure. Worried about a perception that civic groups are being ignored, the global development bank has petitioned the Singapore government to allow protests at its September meeting.:

The World Bank … has stepped in to assure activists that space for civil society is being negotiated to avoid what some critics of the international financial institutions says will undermine the credibility of the Bank’s claims to promote good governance, accountability, transparency and democracy.

Bearbusted”We are working closely with the IMF and with the Singapore Government — and have been for many months — to ensure that diverse civil society voices are very much heard before, during and after the Annual Meetings,” writes Peter Stephens of the Bank’s Singapore office in a letter to the non-governmental organisations (NGOs). ”We believe that meaningful civil society engagement is critical to the effectiveness of the meetings.”

The letter also dismisses the argument made by the NGOs that the Bank and the IMF are trying to shut the door on the world’s poor by giving shape to a restrictive process. ”Far from being a regulated or restricted process, as you appear to suggest, we are trying to enable a process that is open and led by civil society, and for the issues and means of addressing them to arise spontaneously, not through a formal process that we lead or try to manage,” adds Stephens.

CpfprotestorsBut for veteran civil society actors in Singapore, the Bank’s letter appears to be out of touch with the stubborn reality on the ground in the city-state. ”It will be nearly impossible to protest in Singapore for locals,” Sinapan Samydorai, head of Think Centre, a human rights NGO, told IPS. ”Locals trying to express any political opinion in public will require a license. The licenses are often denied to locals.”

Singapore should have no reason to not permit protests. Its police and public security forces are some of the finest in the world. They have proven themselves very adept at stopping protests before they get out of hand.

The above images are from some of last year’s most impressive actions by the Lion City’s Finest. The arrest of an Australian woman in a bear suit and the that required 40 riot police to disperse.

(Article via Elia Diodati)

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by @ 8:34 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

6,585 Miles to Graceland

Japanese Prime Minister Junichro Koizumi is about to make another controversial shrine visit. But unlike his trips to the Yasukuni Shrine, Mutantfrog notes that he will not be able to brush this off simply as a visit by a private citizen.:

Kozumiandking-1The “King” never came to Japan, but Japan’s prime minister is making a pilgrimage to Graceland.
Elvis fan Billy Morokawa says Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will likely feel the power of Presley’s enduring energy when he tours the rock-and-roll legend’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, Friday with President Bush.

Did you see that? “Pilgrimage” There’s no way this visit is going to pass the church/state test, and visiting it alongside President Bush the “I was only going in my capacity as a private citizen” defense is never going to fly, particularly when considering his personal history in this cult.
Koizumi, 64, is an Elvis devotee who not only shares a January 8 birthday with his idol, but picked out his songs for a 2001 charity album, “Junichiro Koizumi Presents My Favorite Elvis Songs.” The prime minister appears on the album’s cover standing next to Elvis outside Graceland in a composite picture.

Back in 1987 when Koizumi was a mere lawmaker, he and his brother Masaya, now a senior adviser to the Tokyo fan club, helped raise funds to erect a status of Elvis in the Japanese capital to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death.
Three years ago the prime minister, an eclectic music lover whose favorites also include German composer Richard Wagner, sang his favorite Elvis hit—“I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”—with actor Tom Cruise, then in Tokyo to promote his movie “The Last Samurai.”

Unfortunately Koizumi’s album of Elvis hits is not available on Amazon — nor can AsiaPundit find any samples using Limewire. A track listing is here.

For those who wish to further develop a sense of Koizumi’s musical taste, this compilation of his favorite Ennio Morricone compositions is still available.:


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by @ 7:41 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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