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Forum with opposition leader cancelled at Singapore request

Agence France Presse - September 3, 1997

Singapore – The Foreign Correspondents Association (FCA) here said Wednesday it had cancelled a planned forum with Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri at the request of Singapore authorities.

A high-ranking official of Singapore's ministry of information and the arts (MITA) contacted the FCA and conveyed a formal request that the group withdraw an invitation for Megawati to address the organisation in August.

The FCA executive committee asked for a meeting with the official, who discussed the issue with them.

"The committee subsequently considered the government's request and the various issues involved, and voted not to hold the lecture as originally planned," the committee said in a memorandum to members.

FCA members said Singapore's request may have been prompted by concern that Indonesia would be upset if Singapore became a venue for a forum critical of the Indonesian government.

In previous incidents, Indonesia had complained to the Philippines and Malaysia about conferences held in their capitals on the controversial issue of East Timor, a former Portuguese colony forcibly annexed by Indonesia in the mid-1970s.

Asked for a reaction to the FCA memorandum, a MITA spokesman confirmed the request was made for the FCA to withdraw the invitation to Megawati.

"The FCA was free to decide if they should withdraw the invitation. The FCA agreed to do so. We respect and appreciate the FCA's decision on this matter."

"We also understand that Megawati has visited Singapore previously on private visits. She is welcome to continue to do so. MITA has nothing further to add to this issue," the spokesman added.