By Terry Xu
The third Population White Paper (PWP) protest this year was carried out at Hong Lim Park on Saturday. The turnout of approximately 500 people was a far cry from the number who turned up for the previous two protests.
Mr Goh, founder of transitioning.org and organizer of the 3 protests, acknowledged that the turnout was much smaller than the previous 2 protests but he maintained that it still achieved its purpose.
Only 7 speakers addressed the crowd this time round compared to the 10 in each of the previous 2 protests. One of the speakers, Ariffin, a secondary school student, had to withdraw as a speaker due to alleged issues with the school that he studies in.
4 employment agencies had set up stalls at the protest site, hosting a mini job fair for those unemployed.
Ms Seet, 47 an attendee who have attended all three protests, said that though the content of the speeches remained relevant, the lesser turnout might be a result of the short time span between the protests.
The organizers for the event made slight adjustments to the programme for the day to allow a short segment where attendees were invited to give a short address or to pose questions to the speakers.
The speakers all reiterated that what they were against was the policy that favors foreigners and not the foreigners themselves, directing most of their attention at the ruling party instead.
Alex Tan Zhixiang, a Reform Party candidate in the last General Elections, and editor of The Real Singapore, took to the stage wearing a mask. Reiterating the usual narrative that the influx of foreigners is the reason for the high cost of living in Singapore.
Daryl Nihility, the photogenic Singaporean who has appeared in the previous protests with his famous “Singapore for Singaporeans” placard, gave a fiery speech littered with controversial issues revolving around the ruling party. One of which is to cite the seemingly discriminatory practice against Malays in the Singapore armed forces.
Roy Ngerng of The Heart Truths spoke about minimum wage and the need for change in the country while seasoned blogger, Leong Sze Hian, ended the speakers’ segment looking at Government expenditure on housing and healthcare.
Mr Ma, 63, a passer-by who stopped to listen to the speeches said that he didn’t know of this protest but found the speakers making sense in what they say. He sees the protest as a mild event and that government should ease on the control over peaceful protests like this.
Mr Goh, 43, a first timer to the protests, said that it is good that people turned up physically to show their stance on the population white paper and the state of the country.
Hafiz, 23, also a first timer to the protests, commented that he he found speaker Roy Ngerng’s point on minimum wage as an issue worthy of being looked into by the government to help locals meet the rising costs of living in Singapore.
Dr Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), made an unexpected appearance with his party colleagues.
Dr Chee reluctantly went up the stage after being invited by Mr Goh to address the crowd which was chanting his name.
Dr Chee, in his short address to the crowd, said,
“…I ask all of us here in Singapore to be the people that we truly are, the tolerant people that we are and if we attack, we attack the policy, we point out the flaws in the policy, not against the people who are here for work.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had earlier said in Parliament that the 6.9 million figure in the Government’s White Paper had been taken out of context.
He said, “Nobody knows what’s going to happen in 2030. Even in 2020, you cannot be sure… Therefore we cannot decide on a population trajectory beyond 2020.”