Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore cancelled amid uncertain COVID-19 situation


By Ivan Lim
Former AJA President, Contributor to AsiaN

SINGAPORE: Another high-level conference in Singapore has fallen victim to Covid-19 pandemic as the city-state sees little sign of the raging virus outbreaks receding soon.

The Shangri-la Dialogue, as the annual summit of defence chiefs is called after the Shangri-la hotel venue, was to start on June 4.

The organiser, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) has decided, to call it off a few days after reconfirming the global security conference would go ahead.

The change of mind came as a surprise. The Ministry of Defence, the local host, called this “regretful”

However, it cited the health and safety of Singaporeans and overseas participants were paramount factors for aborting the annual summit.

In bowing to the pandemic, the think-tank said: “Unfortunately, the global COVID-19 situation has recently deteriorated, in part because of the rise of infectious new COVID variants.

“In Singapore there has been a rise in local cases, recently introduced new restrictions, and the prospect of further tightening cannot be ruled out – all of which creates uncertainty.

“Taken together these various factors mean that holding an in-person Shangri-La Dialogue this year has become unviable.”

The Ministry of Defence said this “in no way reflects any reduced commitment to dialogue and engagement to ensure peace and stability in Asia and beyond”.

The ministry said it would try to find other and safer avenues to keep the issues alive..

Earlier, the World Economic Forum announced it was calling off its special annual meeting, set to be held in the Republic on Aug 17-20, due to the aggravating Covid-19 pandemic.

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