Singapore plans a happy face for IMF-WBank delegates

Chandi Dharmaratne

SINGAPORE, Sept 8, 2006 (AFP) – Singapore, which has been criticized for its cold efficiency and indifferent service, is putting on a happy face as it prepares to host its biggest international conference. “There’s always a misconception that here is not always a vibrant place,” said Goh. “In fact the city has a lot of offerings. So we want them to enjoy their stay here.”

– by Bernice Han The authorities are asking the entire population to show “four million smiles” when 16,000 VIPs converge here for a week-long gathering culminating in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings on September 19-20.

The main business district where the meetings will take place has been given a major makeover: streets have been spruced up with new plants, and bridges and pavements given a fresh coat of paint.

A national “Four Million Smiles” project was launched in June to encourage Singaporeans and resident expatriates to submit photographs which will be fused into a large digital mural to welcome delegates.

“Our reputation is on the line,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a televised speech last month.

“It’s bigger than anything we have done so let’s work together to make it the