Security in Singapore would be stepped up with at least 10,000 police officers deployed to prevent terrorist attacks and to ensure the smooth run of meetings.
The 10-day annual conference, which is also one of the biggest and most awaited events in Singapore, is expected to draw more than 16,000 foreign delegates from 184 countries around the world. Home Team agencies (which include the Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and others) have been on high alert since August as part of a three-pronged approach which includes tighter border controls and helicopters surveillance on ground operations.
“We view these security measures as absolutely necessary and reasonable. We’re really looking – street by street, floor by floor- at every event venue and thinking of all the people who may be affected,” said Senior Assistant Commissioner, Aubeck Kam. Besides ensuring maximum security, the conference venue, Suntec Convention Centre has been refurbished, buildings spruced up, roads re-laid and citizens encouraged to give their best smile. This has won the praised of World Bank’s Singapore representative Peter Stephens, “Singapore has every detail under control.”
Besides preventing terrorist attacks, the security personnel will also ensure that protests do not get out of control. Groups accredited by the World Bank and the IMF will be allowed to demonstrate in a designated area in the lobby of the Suntec Convention Centre. Mr. Kam explained the rationale being that “in this environment, where we are gearing up to counter any security threat, we are not able to have outdoor demonstrations that could cause confusion in such a way that security becomes compromise. We will not entertain any notion of allowing groups of people to gather and form larger and larger groups. We are prepared to deal with protestors in a firm, decisive but fair manner.”
As a result of the strict regulations, protestors are taking their gripes to Batam, an Indonesian island close to Singapore. For a week, these protestors will gather at the Asrama Haji, a dormitory five minutes by foot from the Batam Centre ferry terminal where they will hold meetings, seminars and on the last day, a four-hour outdoor protest.
According to the coordinator of the International People’s Forum Ramches Merdeka, “We only want to spread the message of plight of those in Third World countries…the police have given us a commitment to allow the protest and we only need to send them a letter informing them of the dates and time of the outdoor protests.” He hopes that the financial and economic chiefs “will come to Batam”, if not, a publicity plan is place where foreign journalists have been invited to cover the forum. Indonesian police personnel from Batam will also be deployed in maintaining security in Singapore.
The Singapore Armed Forces, Police Coast Guard, Maritime Port Authority and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority are currently holding its largest anti-terror sea exercise aimed at improving the government’s ability to tackle piracy and terrorism in the Singapore and Malacca straits, which are among the world’s busiest sea lanes. The 2 weeks exercise (Aug 21 – Sept 1) involves 1,600 personnel, 22 vessels and a maritime petrol aircraft.
Singapore, which earlier this year also simulated terrorist attacks to test the responsiveness of the Civil Defence Force and financial institutions, is stepping up its preparations and responsiveness at all levels to deal with all sort of contingencies. Terrorism is seen by the political leaders here as one of the major security threats that would have a severe impact on economic development and social cohesion in Singapore.
Security for IMF meet includes random searches, strict ban on rallies: Police (Straits Times, 30 Aug 2006)
Security stepped up in run-up to IMF gathering (Straits Times, 30 Aug 2006)
Singapore wins praise for IMF-World Bank preparations (Channel News Asia, 30 Aug 2006)
Fortress Singapore (Today, 31 Aug 2006)
Security operations ramped up in the run-up to IMF/World Bank meetings (Channel News Asia, 30 Aug 2006)
Singapore to deploy 10,000 officers for World Bank (Bloomberg, 30 Aug 2006)
Protesting the World Bank from Batam (Today, 31 Aug 2006)
Indonesian police to help maintain security during IMF sessions (Bernama, 30 Aug 2006)
S’pore stages largest anti-terror sea exercise (Straits Times, 30 Aug 2006)
Singapore holds its largest inter-agency maritime exercise (Channel News Asia, 29 Aug 2006)
Singapore holds maritime drill to combat terrorism, piracy (Bloomberg, 30 Aug 2006)