WASHINGTON – September 8 – Civil society groups worldwide have reacted angrily to the Singaporean government's ban on up to 20 delegates who plan to attend Bank/Fund annual meetings there next week. They have also condemned the pressure apparently brought by Singapore's government on the administration of neighbouring Batam, Indonesia, where a major civil society conference will be held next week. Yesterday it appeared that permission would not be granted for the conference, but today, following an international outcry, official sources in Jakarta confirmed it can go ahead.

Three years ago when the IMF & World Bank designated Singapore for their joint annual meetings civil society groups predicted these difficulties. Lidy Nacpil of Jubilee South commented “Singapore’s thorough restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly are well known. The sounds of shock and disappointment from the IMF and World Bank cannot be taken seriously”. “The IMF and World Bank are trying to shed their image as economic disciplinarians and reposition themselves as civil society-friendly and as good governance champions, but these events show how little they have changed”, said Nacpil.

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