About 5-6,000 people were present at the May Day protest at Hong Lim Park this afternoon (1 May) to protest against the Govt’s 6.9 million Population White Paper a second time. The Govt has proposed to bring in more immigrants in order to hit the projected number of 6.9 million population in Singapore by 2030.

This is the second protest organized by Transitioning.org. The first one was held on 16 Feb also at Hong Lim Park with an estimated crowd of 4-5,000. The organizer and speakers felt that the crowd was bigger this time round for the May Day protest. Other participants who were at both 16 Feb and 1 May protest events also said that the crowd at the second protest was bigger.

Live streaming for the protest event was also available for the first time (‘Live TV Streaming for May Day Protest at Hong Lim‘). A total of about 20,000 people viewed the event via live streaming.

At the start of the event, Gilbert Goh, President of Transitioning.org, asked the participants to wave their pink ICs to show that they were not foreigners, as non-Singaporeans were discouraged from attending due to a reminder from NParks to Mr Goh earlier (‘NParks: Police permit needed for May Day Protest if foreigners participating‘). NParks told Mr Goh that he will need to apply for a Police permit if foreigners are allowed to attend the protest event as required by the law. The organizer decided not to and instead, posted signs at the park to warn foreigners not to attend.

Mr Goh spoke at the event, “I am not against foreigners but we are against the policy of allowing a company to hire 100 per cent foreigners.”

“The employment pass allows companies to hire 100 per cent foreigners, and I don’t think this is right. There is a quota for S pass. Why don’t they put a quota for the employment pass? They are the greatest competition for educated Singaporeans,” he said.

Mr Goh hopes to organise similar protests on Labour Day every year.

Anti-foreigner sentiment has been rising in Singapore with many citizens blaming immigrants for pushing up the cost of living, taking jobs away from locals and straining infrastructure.

One of the speakers was human rights and constitutional lawyer M Ravi. He talked about the wide income gap and lack of protection for human rights in Singapore. He said that the government, employers and trade unions were supposed to protect workers’ rights, but the tripartite arrangement has been “ineffective”. He also said population growth in Singapore “increases poverty and causes unequal distribution of wealth”, citing that the country has one of the widest income gaps in the world. He noted that while other ASEAN member states have human rights commissions, Singapore does not.

Lawyer and former board director of AMP was supposed to be speaking at the event. However, he had decided to withdraw from speaking due to allegations that he is using AMP and May Day protest to seek political mileage for himself.

He wrote on his Facebook page, “There has been suggestions that I have purportedly used AMP for political reasons, which is untrue. I have been an advocate of the need for a strong civil society and a rich diversity of views for Singapore to be resilient. This will allow Singaporeans to reconnect themselves with the country and to feel a part of the core.”

“As a personal protest against untruths on my purported political objectives, and to underscore the fact that I am not seeking political mileage arising from my withdrawal from AMP and to speak at the May Day protest, I have, with a heavy heart, decided not to speak at the May Day rally at Hong Lim park.”

TR Emeritus
*Article first appeared on www.TREmeritus.com