Hundreds of students left in the dark after conference called off
Participants from regional universities spent months preparing for conference modelled on the UN, which was due to be held at RWS
A week-long conference based on the United Nations that was scheduled to start here on Sunday has been cancelled, leaving hundreds of students in the dark.
The Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference 2019 (AMUNC), touted as one of the largest and most prestigious conferences for university students in the region, was supposed to run until July 13 at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).
The annual travelling conference, which is in its 25th year, was to be held with the support of the Political Science Society (PSSOC) of National University of Singapore (NUS), an independent group formed by NUS students .
Several participants, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The New Paper that this was the first time the event had been canned.
A third-year Singapore Institute of Management-University of London student said he was surprised because the conference has a long-standing good reputation and was among the most prestigious.
He said: "A lot of work was put into preparing for it, such as writing research papers. Having it on your resume is as valuable as a good internship. We were promised many things such as holding it at RWS for a week, and the Malaysian Food Street had also been booked."
An RWS spokesman told TNP on Tuesday that it had been informed the event would not be happening.
TNP understands a local travel agency was also contacted earlier this year to provide travel deals for delegates, but there was no further development.
Students from the region would attend the conference as delegates and present resolutions to regional issues, and awards would be presented at its conclusion. The event was held in Sydney last year and in Hong Kong the previous year.
A second-year student from the University of Brawijaya in Indonesia said her team of seven delegates had spent almost a year preparing for the conference.
"Everyone wants to attend this. We have been going to many other conferences and doing so much to prepare for it," she said, adding that they were told of the cancellation last week.
She said she had spent almost 10 million rupiah (S$960) on flights, accommodation and the conference fee of between $200 and $300.
"We are still flying to Singapore because our tickets are non-refundable. But my teammates want to ask our embassy if it can help speak to the organisers about refunds," she added.
"Cost was a consideration because it was not a small sum for students like us. But we felt it was worth it."
A fourth-year student from Padjadjaran University in Indonesia said her team now owes its sponsors about 25 million rupiah.
She said: "We can't even explain to our sponsors what happened. We are victims too, but we didn't get any explanation. It is like AMUNC just disappeared."
Checks by TNP show the event's website had been taken down.
A graduate student from the Australian National University spent about $900 on his plane tickets and insurance.
He said: "It is the holidays in Australia now so students are taking up internships, and some of them turned away job opportunities to attend the event.
"It is a significant opportunity cost - and not just in terms of money."
When contacted, PSSOC declined to comment apart from saying that it has engaged a law firm as the matter may be subjected to litigation.
The student from Padjadjaran University said: "The conference was like a dream to us. But now we are doubtful about the future of the event."