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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Europe MPs 'gagged' by Singapore
MEPs including Graham Watson (L)
The MEPs had been invited by an opposition politician
Singapore has been accused of acting like an "authoritarian state" after refusing to allow European Parliament members to speak during a visit.

The seven MEPs, as well as a Cambodian and a Philippines congresswoman, were denied permission to speak at a forum on democracy in Europe and Asia.

One MEP likened the Singaporeans' to repressive regimes such as North Korea.

The Singapore government said foreigners did not have permission to address the event.

The seven MEPs, from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), came to Singapore after earlier speaking at a forum in Indonesia.

'Authoritarian state'

"I fear that, in this sense at least, it puts Singapore in a league with North Korea, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China," MEP Graham Watson was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"What has happened today proves that Singapore is an authoritarian state," said Ignasi Guardans, a Spanish MEP.

The MEPs had been invited to speak by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) led by Chee Soon Juan, opponents of the People's Action Party which has ruled the island state since 1959.

"Singapore's politics are reserved for Singaporeans. As visitors to our country, foreigners should not abuse their privilege by interfering in our domestic politics," Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.

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