Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


Orchard Road sees red

By Nazry Bahrawi, TODAY
21 November 2007

SINGAPORE: They had played by the rules, holding gatherings at indoor venues to express solidarity with their countrymen back home. And on Tuesday, they had planned to release doves in a symbolic gesture of peace.

But the gameplan for the Myanmar community here changed after United Nations' special envoy Ibrahim Gamabari's briefing to the East Asia Summit was called off - and on Tuesday, they took to the streets without a police permit.

Thirty-five in all - students, professionals and workers - donned red T-shirts and lined up in rows of three, carrying flyers and a banner, outside Starbucks Coffee at Orchard Parade Hotel for nearly 20 minutes.

Police arrived and after a five-minute exchange with the protesters, the latter, who remained smiling and polite, removed their T-shirts and dispersed - telling the media: "This is a peaceful protest, we don't want any trouble."

Their one request to Singapore: Arrange a session with Mr Gambari, so they could get an update on Myanmar.

On Monday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said Singapore as ASEAN chair could "facilitate Mr Gambari's meeting with interested parties".

Earlier in the day at Orange Grove Road, near summit venue Shangri-La Hotel, four members of SG Human Rights tried to hand over a greeting card bearing some 40 signatures and a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi to ASEAN leaders.

They were barred by police but after some discussion, it was agreed the group would disperse if a member of the ASEAN Secretariat came out to receive their card. This took place without incident.

Others went beyond theatrics.

At a press conference, regional civil society coalition Sapa Working Group on ASEAN said, the grouping's acceding to Myanmar's request to scrap Mr Gambari's briefing was "a slap" to ASEAN and the hosts.

But the group stressed that the "drama and activity" of street protests should not distract from what is important: The contents of the ASEAN Charter.

The Sapa Working Group plans to submit its alternative ASEAN Peoples' Charter - a code of human rights principles - to the ASEAN secretariat at the next year's Bangkok summit.

Meanwhile, two members of the Singapore Democratic Party were escorted away from Shangri-La Hotel after repeated warnings not to enter the restricted area. One of them, Ms Chee Siok Chin, the sister of the party's secretary-general Chee Soon Juan, told police she had planned to have dinner at the hotel. - TODAY/ym

Labels: ,