The World Economic Forum (WEF), initially slated to take place in May, was delayed by the organisation rather than the Singapore Government itself, said People’s Voice (PV) party chief Lim Tean on Thursday (4 Feb).
The annual meeting was relocated from its home ground Davos — a Swiss town — to Singapore for the first time in 2021 due to the COVID-19 virus fears in Europe.
Aiming to become the first global leadership event to address the global pandemic recovery, it was scheduled to be held on 13 to 16 May this year. This was subsequently pushed back to 25 May until 28 May.
The WEF has called for a further delay on its annual meeting to 17 August until 20 August due to the “international challenges in containing the pandemic”.
“Although the WEF and Government of Singapore remain confident of the measures in place to ensure a safe and effective meeting, and local transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore remains at negligible levels, the change to the meeting’s timing reflects the international challenges in containing the pandemic,” it said on 3 Feb.
The organisation noted that current global travel restrictions have made planning for an in-person meeting in the first half of the year difficult.
“Furthermore, differing quarantine and air transport regulations have increased the lead time necessary to ensure that participants globally can make arrangements to join,” it added.
Commenting on this, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said it understands the challenges faced by the WEF and has agreed to postpone the event.
“We will continue to partner the World Economic Forum closely to host a safe and successful special annual meeting in Singapore,” the MTI told The Straits Times.
Following that, Mr Lim took to his Facebook last Thursday to highlight that the postponement was made at the request of the WEF and not the Singapore Government.
He pointed out that while the WEF’s postponement feels like “a win” for the Singapore citizens, it was “a missed opportunity” for the People’s Action Party (PAP) to express their determination in putting the safety of its people first.
“It should have been the Government who expressed caution and put in strict stipulations (zero new cases for 28 days for example), it should have been an opportunity for the PAP to show with action how determined they are to put Singapore safely back on track with the health and well-being of the People firmly in first place,” he wrote.
Noting that the annual meeting is about discussing future global policies, Mr Lim opined that such a discussion can be organised virtually, such as via video conferencing app Zoom.
“As we all enter a CNY period unlike any other we have ever experienced, with virtual events and limited gathering numbers, it would be galling to say the least to have allowed the un-elected WEF group to jet in for a bit of non-essential hobnobbing and back slapping,” he added.