Saturday, August 26, 2006

The (Side) Show Must Go On

I confess I am an ignoramus. I don’t know what the IMF/World Bank meeting is all about. What I do know is that every meeting is accompanied by lots of demonstrations by some very angry and unhappy people and the media people have a field day. You could say that these demonstrations have become a necessary ‘side show’ for the main event. But in recent years, the side show seemed to have overtaken the IMF meeting proper as the main show.

Next month this grand show will be staged in our tiny island for the first time and our government is ecstatic. Just think of it - thousands of visitors, millions of tourism dollars, tons of media coverage. No wonder they are going all out to ensure that our ‘customers’ will receive GEMS (Go The Extra Mile Service). They are even painting the flyovers (Singapore undergoes face-lift ahead of IMF/World Banks meetings) and collecting 4 million smiles.

Now even an ignoramus knows that to provide good customer service, you must obey the basic commandment which is; The Customer is Always Right. In this case, what the customer wants is for the 300 to 400 CSO’s (Civil Society Organisations, not customer service officers) to perform their show, sorry, I mean carry out their demonstrations outdoors. But our Singapore law prohibits all outdoor demonstrations – even silent ones without placards and banners.

So what’s the solution? According to an article headlined “Let them protest .. in the Suntec Lobby” in yesterday’s Today (no typo there);

“The organising committee for the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank meetings believes it has an excellent solution to outdoor demonstrations by setting aside the Suntec lobby for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to air their opinion in full view of the delegates.”

Now, this is what I call exceeding the customer’s expectations. Just imagine, demonstrating in air-con comfort. Which other country can match us? Maybe all future IMF meeting will be held here.

Now these guys can do their thing in air-con comfort

One small problem. What if our irritating opposition parties decide to do likewise in the future? We can’t have that can we?

Another not so small problem. What if the customer is unreasonable and insists on an outdoor performance?

My suggestion – Set aside a section of Marina South which is being earmarked for the Integrated Resort for this side show. We can actually kill two birds with one stone. When the cameras are filming the show, we can put up some banners to tell the whole world that this is the site of the world class casino. (must emphasize casino in case they think it is place for collecting Inland Revenue). When that happens, some of us who are against the IR project can even sneak in and mingle with the crowds with our “Say NO to casino” placards.

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