Heads of State or their deputies representing the 900 million people of the Commonwealth have gathered in Singapore for the opening of the Commonwealth Conference on Thursday (Jan 14).
Heads of State or their deputies representing the 900 million people of the Commonwealth have gathered in Singapore for the opening of the Commonwealth Conference on Thursday (Jan 14). Singapore, as the first nation outside Britain to act as host to 2 full Commonwealth conference, has made an all-out effort to do justice to the occasion.
For Singapore it is more than just a big occasion. It is the first time the Commonwealth leaders have met in Asia - and seven out of every ten Commonwealth citizens are Asians. The booming city has been given its biggest ever clean-up. New paint is in evidence everywhere and council workmen have worked long into the night making the most of the public gardens and flower beds. The city is also taking a tough line with litter louts. Anyone seen dropping a piece of paper in the street faces a fine of up to GBP70 sterling.
Among the arrivals yesterday (Tuesday, Jan 12) were President Makarios of Cyprus and the Kenya Vice-President, Mr Daniel Moi - one of the Africa delegates determined to try to stop Britain's proposed arms deal with South Africa.
With so many important visitors in town the Singapore Police are taking the question of security very seriously. Police seem to be everywhere and guards are particularly heavy at the hotels where the representatives of the 31 nations are staying. Many important discussions will take place informally at the hotels as well as at the conference itself.
One answer to the security problem is Changi Jail, ten miles (15km) out of town. The jail, a bitter memory for Commonwealth servicemen imprisoned there by the Japanese during the Second World War, now houses Left-owing prisoners who are being held after a number of petrol bomb attacks.