Sunday, February 17, 2013

Protest Against the 6.9 million Population Target by Year 2030 @ Speakers' Corner [Singapore]

Yesterday was a hectic day for me and one of the highlights was my attendance for the "Protest Against the 6.9 million Population Target by Year 2030" organised by transitioning.org.

Held in Speakers' Corner, Singapore's only area where citizens can freely speak on most issues (with the exception on racial and religious topics) without the need to apply for a license (registration is still necessary though at the nearby Kreta Ayer Neighbourhood Police Post); this event was tagged to be a protest against the indicative population of 6.9 million people mentioned in the recent, heavily debated population white paper tabled by the government.

Scheduled to start at 4pm, the attendance was only a couple of hundreds when i arrived 5 minutes past 4. Disappointing maybe since the official facebook event has indicated that 4,009 people would be going but hardly surprising given the drizzle.

Muddy field was a certainty and i am so glad i was wearing CROC shoes. Mom was aghast when she saw them when i got home though.

As a Singaporean, i am deeply concerned about the hike in population again; not so much against the influx of foreigners but more of the strain on infrastructure that continues to be a challenge today. There is also the risk of further eroding the Singapore identity painstakingly built up in the last 48 years.

I am not advocating the burning of the white paper as it does provide important planning parameters for the future. However, conditions in the past few years have significantly dented the confidence Singapore citizens have on the ruling party.

A total of twelve speakers were planned with a few notable ones whom Singaporeans are no stranger to; Mr Tan Jee Say, Mr Tan Kin Lian, Mr Vincent Wijey, Mr Ravi Philemon, Ms Jeannette Chong etc. I have to leave early and sadly, caught the speech of only about five speakers. 

I am drawing similarities with the Workers Party election rally i attended in 2011; emotional speeches peppered with uncertainties, unhappiness that, despite the organiser insistence that it is an apolitical event, pointed the accusing finger squarely at People's Action Party (PAP).

Deepening displeasure towards the ruling party is understandable as the unpopular white paper was endorsed by 77 members of parliament; all of whom contested under the PAP flag. 

Sentiments on the ground that Singapore is already overcrowded with far too many foreigners and other issues are commonly heard and to endorse the white paper over a span of merely five days of debate seems to imply that the government is disregarding the voices of many citizens. 

Of course i am aware of the pros and cons to the paper; having read many opinions, viewpoints being shared on mainstream and social medias. It was also clarified that 6.9 million is just a worst case assumption (and not a target) for planning purposes and the paper would be reviewed in the future (i think in 2020).

To me, this event was not just to protest against the number 6.9 million. 

Most importantly, it brings together Singaporeans, regardless of race, religion, language, gender, who are concerned for the country's future and clearly shows that Singaporeans are no longer apathetic when it comes to issues that affect us. 

More pictures below!

Given the dangerously low savings in my bank account, i should have been more daring and set up a temporary stall selling drinks and snacks to earn some money!

The speakers' stage; with umbrellas blocking my view, it was hard to take a good shot. 

A boy who appeared very bored. At this point, he would not have understood that his parents were there simply because they are worried for his future. 

Videoing the event - i am not sure if this person is from the media. 

Attendees crowding the second level of a cafe that was beside the main stage. At this point, the rain was not as incessant and many of us decided to keep away the umbrellas. 

At 4.30pm, the numbers continued to swell and many were listening to the speeches attentively. I caught snippets here and there since i was walking all over the place taking pictures! 

Cars parked illegally on the roadside bordering Hong Lim Park.

It's a pity i could not stay throughout the event as i can resonate with many of the issues being discussed, especially with the two younger speakers who are around my age.

The crowd at this point was much bigger and i expected the number to increase after 5pm. Estimates place the number at around 5,000 although some have said it was more likely between 3,000 and 4,000.

Imran, i didn't realise you were caught in this photograph! Haha. As you can see, the entrance to the MRT station was blocked as some preferred to stay in sheltered areas just in case the rain gets heavier. 

Raindrops started pelting down again close to 5pm! 

From the bridge, it was a really impressive sight with open-up umbrellas featuring a myriad of colours covering the otherwise green landscape. 

Right in front of me was also a touching scene as many of us braved the rain to show our support for issues that concerned our country; a place we have always known as our home. 

2 comments:

  1. makan lover1:00 PM

    i was there too

    when the song (count on me singapore) and the national anthem were played, and everyone sang, it was very touching to me...

    for this moment, we singaporeans have come together as one

    ReplyDelete
  2. =(

    i should have stayed throughout the protest... knowing me, i know i would have teared to see everyone coming together for the future of our homeland.

    ReplyDelete

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