Bending Over Again

We bend and we bend… but who appeciates it?

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Title: 22 of 27 CSO representatives are now able to enter Singapore

By: Rita Zahara, Channel NewsAsia

Date: 15 Sep 2006 2109 hrs (GMT + 8hrs)

SINGAPORE: 22 of the 27 Civil Society Organisation (CSO) representatives will now be allowed to enter Singapore for the IMF/World Bank meetings.

The move comes after Singapore reviewed its decision based on input provided by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

However, the remaining five will still be subjected to interviews and may not be let in, if they attempt to enter the country.

In response, the World Bank says it is pleased with the Singapore government’s decision.

It says it is notifying those affected of their change in status.

But it continues to urge Singapore to allow all persons accredited for the meetings to enter the country.

The general mood was one of determination and getting down to serious work.

Some issues included tackling corruption and how civil groups in disaster-hit areas like Jogjakarta can work with government agencies.

“What we have found is that these projects that we actively engage with the CSOs, they tend to have much better development impact than these projects where we simply work with only government officials. They’re the most effective eyes and ears on the ground. They’re the source of our ability to monitor many projects,” said Homi Kharas, Chief Economist, World Bank.

“It requires a very strong presence of CSOs as we’re rebuilding. Having capacity on the ground, being able to deal with the families, dealing with the effects of the devastation, and bringing them from there to the rebuilding,” said Jeffrey S. Gutman, Director, Strategy and Operations, World Bank.

Discussions also included tackling poverty in China.

“The Chinese government has been quite effective at managing this whole process of development in poverty reduction. The Chinese government has a target for bringing clean water to the whole population by the year 2015,” said David Dollar, Chief of Mission, Beijing, World Bank.

One activist hoped to get policy makers more attuned to the needs of youths when drafting policies.

“NGOs can choose whichever way they choose to express themselves. My NGO is more interested in talking directly to decision-makers to get a feel of where they’re coming from. We also want to see what are their challenges and what are their difficulties so that then we can have a meaningful conversation to bridge the gap, where the programmes that are well-intentioned are failing,” said Bernise Ang, Founder, Singapore Int’l Youth Council.

However, others opted for a silent indoor protest, where 30 activists wore surgical masks carrying slogans “NO VOICE” and wore T-shirts with a message against poverty.

The campaigners wish to illustrate how poor countries do not have a say in how the World Bank and IMF are run.

A few campaigners in the group spoke up about their cause after some 15 minutes of silence.

“We need a voice and a bigger voice, given the fact that the majority of the people whose lives are affected by the policies are from poor countries,” said Bishop Akolgo.

At the town hall meeting, the IMF and World Bank chiefs worked to resolve issues and gather feedback from civil groups.

For those who are not able to join the meetings, the 2 leaders had offered an alternative – to communicate via the web.

During the town hall meeting, this suggestion was explored by web-casting the event LIVE.

The IMF and World Bank have said they will continue to check whether there has been any feedback and will take it from there.

The forums continue till 20th September. – CNA /dt

Clarification

Was reading my previous posts when i realised that i may have appeared to be overly defensive of Singapore’s decision to not allow outdoor protests at the IMF Meet, and the govt’s decision to not allow 28 activists onto our sunny shores.  I realised that a lot of media on the Internet are either inaccurate or skewed in their reports of the incidents.  So here’s an article from Channel News Asia on why these nuts were banned.

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Title: Singapore bans 28 from country during IMF/World Bank meetings

By: Asha Popatlal, Channel NewsAsia

Date: 11 Sep 2006 2238 hrs (GMT + 8hrs)

At least 28 activists from eight civil service organisations, including some in Asia, have been barred from entering Singapore during the IMF/World Bank meetings.

Police explained the sort of activities these people had engaged in that put them on the no-entry list.

“Among the people that we have raised objection to, they are characters who were involved in disruptive activities in Seattle in 1999, in Genoa in 2001, in Cancun in 2003,” said Soh Wai Wah, Chief of Staff, Singapore Police Force.

He was referring to violent anti-globalisation protests which have marred the World Trade Organisation and other international meetings in these cities.

He said one of those barred is known to have broken into the World Bank headquarters and stolen confidential documents while another was involved in the takeover of a consulate in San Francisco.

“So we are talking about characters that are of security concern, that are of law and order concern,” he said.

While these individuals had already been accredited by IMF/World Bank, police say it is the Singapore government’s decision whether to let them in or not.

“The World Bank makes the decisions on who to accredit. And the Singapore government makes the decision on who is to be allowed into the country,” said Soh.

For now, the Police are trying to contact these individuals through the World Bank or their embassies in Singapore so that they do not end up making an abortive trip.

Despite these developments, police say discussions are still ongoing between Singapore and the IMF/World Bank and relations remain cordial. They say that although they may not agree on everything, every effort is being made to reconcile differences. – CNA/ir

Baa Baa Lost Sheep Have u Any Brains?

I am a serious lost sheep at work.  Just ended my 3rd week with 2 disasters… too complicated to relate the whole story here but basically i just got very confused between which insurers gave us quotes, and kept forgetting which insurer i had approached for quotes… and said 2 really dumb, totally bimbotic things to my boss.  (The 2nd incident being I asked him if he wanted me to approach a particular underwriter when i already gave him the quote from that underwriter.  My boss told me not to scare him ‘cos he already forwarded the quote to the client.)  Sigh.  It’s not good.

On my 1st week of work, i got so lost with all the structured finance stuff. I mean, what the heck is securitisation, with recourse, w/o recourse, forfaiting, etc etc??  During my 2nd week, i kept confusing the details of the cases… it’s like i would put Sanshun (of My Lovely Samsoon) into the storyline of Da Chang Jin (Jewel in the Palace), and think the entire thing took place in Jin Yong’s Legend of the Condor Heroes.  It was bad.

This week was the ultimate test of my memory. I more or less got the structured finance thing… and i can more or less remember of entire story behind the cases correctly, as long as u give me 5secs to recall the story before i tell u about it… but i keep forgetting what courses of action i’ve taken, and what results came back!!

Sigh… the things i say to my boss are SO stupid sometimes that i cringe in embarrassment of my own stupidity.  When i told Banker about it while we were leaving the office today, my stories had him in stitches.  He told me that he also got very confused when he first joined but it’s better now.  Well, i guess being confused is one thing… but have your confusion exposed right in front of your boss, is another.

Argh!  This is the first time in any job that i’m worried about passing probation… Sigh.

Civilities of a Civil Society

Saw this article on the Channel News Asia website and i really liked the part in bold & italics below:

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(14/9 2006)

While some of their foreign counterparts are still up in arms over accreditation issues and the ban on outdoor protests, Singapore’s civil society groups are working with little fuss to get their messages through to the bigwigs in town for the IMF-World Bank meetings.

The Climate Change Organisation (CCO), for one, is putting forth a proposal calling for the setting up of an international environmental committee that will either be funded by the nations or get a cut of the world’s carbon trading market.

Yesterday, the World Bank confirmed arrangements for its founder Viki Esther Chang to speak to the panel after an official environmental seminar on Sunday.

Said Ms Chang: “Being a civil society, we are not some gangsters in the streets protesting. I don’t think stripping in front of a fast food restaurant will make people listen to you. Why should we go for shock value when there are civil ways of doing things?”

At press time, the World Bank is unable to provide the number of accredited activists from Singapore, but Today understands that some 43 Singapore civil society activists attended an Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) briefing in July, with 10 groups eventually submitting proposals to the IMF-World Bank to host sessions during the Civil Society Forum.

Four organisations — the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), Tsao Foundation, World Vision International (Singapore) and IPS — were selected to host sessions at the forum, which runs concurrently with the IMF-World Bank meetings and seminars for the official delegates. Topics they would be tackling range from accountability in disaster relief work, social entrepreneurship to income support for the elderly.

SIF’s executive director Dr Tan Tay Keong hopes to raise the issue of accountability by sharing its experience in post-tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in Aceh and Sri Lanka.

Said Dr Tan: “Many events happen on the ground that makes accountability according to budget, timeline and specified deliverables difficult, if not impossible… My hope is that CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) will have the opportunity to learn from each other, instead of repeating each other’s mistakes.”

While not part of the official forum, a handful of groups including Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) would also hold side events that would be attended by foreign activists who are in town. TWC2 would be holding a forum next Monday to release its findings on the wages of migrant workers.

While Think Centre’s president Sinapan Samydorai felt that Singapore could take a leaf from the IMF and World Bank in being more “inclusive of people who disagree”, he called on civil society groups to engage the authorities constructively.

His organisation has been helping “seven or eight” foreign CSOs, who are fellow members of the Asian Forum on Human Rights and Development, by facilitating their travel arrangements and managing their expectations.

“We have told them at least two months before that outdoor demonstrations are unlikely to be approved here and encouraged them to hold more indoor discussions,” he said.

Some think, however, that the networking chances the events provide are more invaluable than the discussions per se.

Said Ms Tan Joo Hymn- the president of the Association of Women for Action and Research: “The Government has denied entry to several dialogue participants. The World Bank and IMF are also not known to be particularly receptive to different opinions – they may have dialogues but nothing ever gets implemented.

“We are approaching this more with curiosity than anything else as we don’t have high hopes that there would be any changes resulting from this. It is an especially great opportunity for the CSOs to network, not so much to achieve anything.” – TODAY

Damn You Foreign Journalists

The more i read the various articles by some foreign journalists/online publications, the more pissed i am.  Fuck u.  That’s all i can say.  I’ve read things like – Singaporeans have “no independent thought process”, how it’s unfair of us to ban people from demonstrating/protesting ‘cos the decisions of the IMF meeting has an impact on “millions of people from over 200 countries”, and how we have “the highest per capita execution rate in the world”.  (What a joke.  We earned this title by hanging 8 people this year.)

So just ‘cos Singapore is a “red dot” on the map, and we have under 5mil people on our shores, our views & concerns don’t deserve to be heard?  Our safety can be disregarded?  Our property can be damaged?  U talk about your bloody “freedom of expression”, and i tell u i’m more concerned about my freedom to walk on my country’s soil without fear of some asshole of a protester ramming his signage into my face.

Ya.  All u stupid troublemakers, u better watch out.  Highest per capita execution rate in the world ok!  U better be careful before we make u the 9th person we hang this year.

Public’s Right, My Ass!

Came across this article in Channel News Asia on Tue (12 Sep 2006):

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MANILA: Filipino activists have demanded the right to protest in Singapore during the IMF-World Bank meetings.

Protesters from a group called Freedom from Debt Coalition is insisting the World Bank step up its pressure on the Singapore government for banning 28 activists.

A small group of demonstrators gathered outside a hotel in Manila as the World Bank’s Managing Director addressed a business lunch inside.

The protesters said both the organisation and Singapore had trampled over the public’s right to demonstrate. – CNA /dt

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Simi “public’s right to demonstrate?  Crap.  I’m part of Singapore’s public… and i also want to exercise my “public’s right” to safe streets lor!  KNS!

Public’s Right, My Ass!

Came across this article in Channel News Asia on Tue (12 Sep 2006):

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MANILA: Filipino activists have demanded the right to protest in Singapore during the IMF-World Bank meetings.

Protesters from a group called Freedom from Debt Coalition is insisting the World Bank step up its pressure on the Singapore government for banning 28 activists.

A small group of demonstrators gathered outside a hotel in Manila as the World Bank’s Managing Director addressed a business lunch inside.

The protesters said both the organisation and Singapore had trampled over the public’s right to demonstrate. – CNA /dt

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Simi “public’s right to demonstrate?  Crap.  I’m part of Singapore’s public… and i also want to exercise my “public’s right” to safe streets lor!  KNS!

The Host

Was reading the papers today when i came across this article that said that the Worldbank and the IMF have criticised Singapore’s policy on not letting people take part in outdoor demonstrations here.  According to the article, they felt that it was a “bad decision” on Singapore’s part to not let people who were against the policies of the organisations onto our shores because the WB & IMF enjoy “engaging” these parties on their differences.

Come on now.  U mean to say that before u chaps decided on using Singapore as the venue of the meeting, u guys didn’t know how strict we were on public order & security?

Personally, i feel that the comments sound rather ungrateful.  Here we are, doing up our city gardens, tightening security all round, mobilising the entire freaking police force – both active servicemen as well as reservist personnel, inconveniencing Singaporeans who happen to be working at offices near your meeting place, and all we get is a “bad decision”, and a subtle threat that due to our tight security measures, you guys will take that into account when u decide on your next IMF meeting venue?  What the heck do you guys want?  Should we just let some terrorists bomb u guys to death?  Perhaps u’ll enjoy that excitement a little more?

As it is, there has been much criticism in the local media that the government is going over the top in welcoming these foreign delegates.  I wasn’t too bothered about it ‘cos i felt that being as tiny as we are, being able to “customise” and decorate the city for this sort of international event, made Singapore unique, and set us apart from other countries.  Never mind that we’ll never see the bright floral blooms in Orchard Road after this event, or how silly it seems to have a campaign to tell Singaporeans to smile for our foreign delegates.  The only thing i ask for is this – whatever you do, keep Singapore safe.  Don’t let our lives or property be threatened in any way because of this event.

Which is why i think the IMF & the WB are such ingrates.  We have done much to accomodate you, so don’t try to impose your values on us.  Your lives may be cheap and not worth much, but our lives are valuable.  Just because we have given an inch in welcoming u, doesn’t mean you can demand a yard in having our security threatened.

Speaking of The Host.  It’s a good movie… i’m not big on the social-political commentary that some have read into the movie.  I just like the story of how a family went all out to save a member.  That was the bottomline that mattered to me – whatever the situation, a family member (or a Singaporean), comes first.

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My, my.  Just realised how apt that my post was published on Sep 11.

It’s a Hot Day!

It’s a hot day today… wanted to go shopping but the weather’s making me just too nua.  Went to visit my bunnies… haven’t been spending much time with them since i started work ‘cos there’s always some sort of event/function at least twice a week after work… so i’m usually too tired by the time i come home at night to play with them.  My darling bunnies… i miss them!

Went round taking lots of photos of the bunnies… the Canon Ixus 60 is really good.  Batt life is definitely better than my Nikon 3700.  I’ve taken like 100+ shots with it and the batt’s still running fine… the 100+ shots were taken over a span of 2 weeks plus?

Took this photo of Pinky (click on it & check out his cute little tongue!)… hehe… i think he’s absolutely the cutest bunny on earth.  If he wasn’t such a pampered prince at home,  he’ll probably be out modelling.  Hehe.  I think he’ll make a fantastic model… after all, he knows how to pose for the camera… jump on chairs to make the shots more interesting, etc.  This photo says it all… “it’s hot today!”

Talking about hot stuff… the hot topic in office the past few days of ‘cos, was about the stupid gal who got fired during her first week.  A colleague from the same dept as her told me that her true colours started showing on her 2nd day of work.  Apparently, they were all making small talk in the morning and they asked her to join them.  Her curt reply was, “I don’t engage in personal conversation”.  Whoa… touche!

Hehe… anyway, knowing there’s a vacancy, i thought of a good friend of mine from sec sch days… make that sec sch + JC + ex-colleague from my 1st company.  Haha.  Somehow, i felt that her personality and skills would suit the post… so i asked her whether she was interested in the position.  Anyway, she sent in her resume, went for the interview, and 1 day later, she got the job.  Haha.  She’s supposed to give the official “yes” to the interviewer today… after a slight negotiation on salary.  I’m really looking forward to her joining me at work.  It’s always nice to have friends around.  🙂

It’s 2:18pm… what should i do now?  Sleep some more?  Watch some episodes of My Lovely Samsoon that i missed?  Or drag myself to go shopping?  Ooh… i forgot to mention… i had a 2nd farewell dinner thrown for me last night… and Uncle Bunny even bought me vouchers from Tangs & Robinsons, out of his own pocket.  I’m really touched by his effort in organising the whole dinner thing & his gift.  Sigh… really nice group of agents.  I’ll miss them.