It was rather surprising for Singaporeans to protest. Let alone protest on a wet day, however, on Feb 16, 2013. About 5,000 Singaporeans made history by appearing to protest the government's white paper to have 6.9 million population by 2030.
The crowd was an angry crowd, but things were peaceful. There were many speakers sharing their views on the white paper. Some speakers were mediocre, stating the obvious and failed to make much impression on the crowd.
Notably, Tan Kin Lian was speaking about his thoughts which were similar to his blog, just his views and seemed to be rather disconnected to the point of the protest -- against the white paper. In my opinion, he was just there to get attention, and for a rich guy like him to talk about some of the issues he raised, it did not seem or sound sincere when he does not live in a HDB or take the MRT.
Vincent Wijeysingha however was much more interesting and made salient points which stirred the crowd.
Later, there seemed to be the crowd favorite, Tan Jee Say. Jee Say seemed much bolder than the other speakers and even called on the PM and his team of ministers who cannot solve Singapore's problem to step down.
There was nothing xenophobic about the protest. The feel was patriotic as the people who attended sang "Count on me Singapore", cited the pledge and sang the National Anthem. There was also a constant reinforcement to say that the protest is against the government's policy. A few of my friends did not attend as it was organized by Transitioning.org, which made xenophobic remarks last year.
For me, I felt that this may be a turning point. The crowd certainly had not much fear in them, no fear of the weather and no fear of the government. There was a common call -- say no to the white paper, say no to 6.9 million population by 2030. And there was also an unexpected message -- to have minimum wage for the low income workers, focus on reducing income inequality.
With minimum wage, a wage that enables a person with a full time job to support himself and perhaps together with his working spouse, raise a family, more Singaporeans will work in jobs which the government labeled "low skilled"
I agree with some of the points raised, however even after the protest, I felt that none of the speakers shared my concern. My main concern was that the white paper was passed to efficiently and fast without much consideration, and this has been seen before when they approved the Casinos, and my concern was with the passing of the white paper, when the infrastructure is built and Singapore needs more energy to power the homes, another white paper will be submitted and passed in similar manner for Nuclear energy.
After visiting Japan and what I saw and hear from friends in Fukushima, Singapore cannot afford any failure, especially with a 6.9 million population, as we cannot have a 20km exclusion zone. With the way SMRT is running, I do not have confidence that proper maintenance will be done, and the people in charge, appointed by the people in power, will not be competent enough, and will not have the sense of duty, but rather do it for profits.
-- Iron Bowl.