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May 23, 2017

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Singapore leads Asia in 'Occupy' rally reluctance

KUALA LUMPUR -- Australia and New Zealand started the rolling global protests denouncing corporate greed but capitalist countries elsewhere in Asia were reluctant to demonstrate, with the turnout in wealthy Singapore almost zero.

Protesters gathered across the world on Saturday to denounce bankers and politicians over the international economic crisis, with violence rocking Rome where cars were torched and bank windows smashed.

Protesters had gathered in Japan and across Southeast Asia, but in the hundreds at most. Singapore didn't even manage that.

Singapore is one of the world's wealthiest nations and a regional base for many banks and fund managers, but its long-ruling People's Action Party is losing support from an electorate unhappy about the widening income divide and the government's liberal immigration policy.

The pro-government Sunday Times appeared to take pride in the non-turnout after a call to gather at Raffles Place in the financial center failed to materialize."What's missing in this picture?" it asked on its front page above a picture of three policemen patrolling an almost empty Raffle Place.

Speakers' Corner

An unidentified person had set up a Facebook page and Twitter account calling on Singaporeans to protest against income inequality and a lack of accountability in the country's sovereign wealth funds, prompting a police warning.

Singapore bars demonstrations, gatherings or speeches without a permit except at a tiny "Speakers' Corner" in a small park at the edge of the central business district.

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