Singapore bent on protest-free APEC summit

4 Dec

Singapore’s legendary zeal for public order will be on full display this week when it hosts a summit involving US President Barack Obama and 20 other leaders. Even one-man protests are banned.

Singapore, a staunch US ally, considers itself a prime terrorism target but is also on guard against foreign and local activists who have disrupted summit gatherings in other countries.

No one expects gatherings similar to the violent protests that forced the cancellation of a Southeast Asian summit in the Thai resort of Pattaya in April. But Singapore is taking no chances.

“In the current security climate, we have a duty to ensure the safety and security of the delegates as well as the general public,” the APEC Organising Committee told AFP in a written response to queries on the security plans.

“We will do what is necessary to ensure their safety, including having enhanced border checks during the period. Offenders will be dealt with accordingly under our laws regardless of their nationality or cause.”

Police special forces and Nepalese Gurkha units are expected to be at the forefront of security at public buildings and hotels to be used by leaders, ministers and other VIPs attending the summit and a business forum.

The international sect Falungong, which is banned in China, claims two of its members — a Malaysian and an Indonesian — were barred from entering Singapore in late October as part of the pre-summit restrictions.

Local practitioners have also been told to stay away from a park near the summit venue.

“All sovereign nations have the prerogative to decide who enters their borders. Singapore is no exception,” the APEC committee said in response to the Falungong allegation.

A Singaporean member of the sect said the summit hosts should lift the restrictions to show other APEC leaders that “Singapore is a democratic country which respects human rights and religious freedom”.

There is no love lost between Singapore and foreign activists.

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