"Among the 28 banned is Walden Bello, a 60-year-old Filipino who heads an NGO called the Focus on the Global South. His 'crimes' according to the police, were to break into the World Bank headquarters to steal documents and occupy a consulate in San Francisco.

Mr Bello told Reuters he published a book in 1981, based on leaked World Bank documents and in 1978 staged a sit-in in the Philippines' San Francisco mission to protest the regime of the then dictator Ferdinand Marcos."

Singapore's streets have been swept, buildings spruced up and thousands of additional flowers planted to welcome the 16,000 delegates for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank group, from September 14-20.

But if the tiny nation's government is hoping the gatherings will project the island on to the world stage as a modern, funky business hub then its PR machine will have a lot of firefighting to do in the next few days

Virtually all the publicity to date, including in the tightly controlled domestic media, has been about the authorities' refusal to grant visas to an uncertain number of non-governmental organisation activists whom the World Bank and IMF have accredited to attend the civil society sections of the meetings.

The Singaporean police chief, Soh Wai Wah, said yesterday 28 people are blacklisted, because they pose a threat to law, order and security. Senior World Bank officials say they only know of 17 people who have been refused entry while some NGOs believe the number is much higher than 28.

read full report>>