The government of Singapore has decided to restrict the number of NRIs and Indian origin citizens that will attend the reception for PM Narendra Modi, to be held at the 100,000 sqm arena of Singapore Expo, on November 24.
The decision has thrown the organisers into a quandary as they are now looking for ways to fill the enormous space at the venue and avoid the impression on TV screens in India, that the much publicised event was sparsely attended.
Singapore’s decision is the first hint of growing unease in many governments over Modi’s unconventional foreign policy of reaching out to citizens over the heads of governments, even though the citizens were Indians at one time by virtue of their birth and ethnicity. The move has prompted Indian associations in Singapore to let their members read between the lines of their event announcements, instead of publicly declaring the ban on Singapore citizens. Each participating Indian organisation in Singapore has been given a code by the organiser of the reception, to register its individual members.
Sources confirmed that the Singapore government has extensively consulted other countries where Modi had spoken at similar events in the past year. China had imposed a similar ban that was not made public.
Efforts are under way to bring over Indians from Indonesia to fill the Singapore Expo when Modi speaks there.