See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Singapore’s May Day Protest Against Population Policy

An estimated crowd of 5,000 gathered in Singapore’s Hong Lim Park on May 1, 2013 to protest the government’s White Paper on population.

To reverse the country’s aging population, the government plans to hire more foreign workers which is being resented by many Singaporeans.

The May Day protest was the second time that a big crowd gathered in the park to speak out against the population program.

Mr Gilbert Goh of Transitioning.org, which helps unemployed individuals, is lead organizer of the event. He writes about the significance of the protest:

We hope that the sequel will see a stronger turn-out and hopefully a rejuvenation of power’s power as I have heard many Singaporeans felt helpless and hopeless as all along we are very disunited and fragmented as a country.

It took us almost 50 years to achieve a 4000-strong massive turnout for a political protest on 16 Feb and hopefully the triumph march of people’s power will return on May 1st.

Singaporeans gathered at Hong Lim Park to protest the government's population program. Photo from Facebook of Gilbert Goh

Singaporeans gathered in Hong Lim Park to protest the government's population program. Photo from Facebook of Gilbert Goh

Patrick Low notes that Hong Lim park is now a space to assert democracy in Singapore:

Every citizen and NGO present there tomorrow can be a co-owner of the action here. Beyond the political framework of a party system hobbled by horse-trading, party allegiance and power mongering the emergence of Hong Lim as a brand new political space for all Singaporeans to share is like the dawn of a new spring. The only common denominator is the common good and the desire to “Change for the Better”.

Jolovan Wham warns against creating a ‘false divide’ between foreigners and the local population:

We need to calibrate our immigration policy such that it does not affect the quality of life of Singaporeans, close the income gap and extend social welfare to all who are disadvantaged and need it. But we cannot achieve this through discrimination and drawing false distinctions because giving foreigners fewer benefits, fewer subsidies and fewer concessions isn't necessarily going to make life better for us Singaporeans. We need to have anti-discrimination laws so that anyone who has been unfairly treated whether it is by nationality, gender identity, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or disability can have avenues to seek redress.

Terry Xu of The Online Citizen observes that speakers also discussed other social issues:

But from the topics covered by the speakers in this protest and from private conversations between total strangers who have just met during the event, it seems to have transcended to a civil movement, which normal Singaporeans could feel empowered to make their voices heard by the incumbent.

And judging from the strong positive response from the crowd, this event would probably not be able to satisfy Singaporeans’ urge to voice out their unhappiness and that there will be more of such events to come in the near future.

Bryan Wong supports the rally to improve the situation of Singaporeans:

To me, it is a noble and courageous act. But all these could happen to our own Singaporeans in future if we do not act and stay oblivious to the situation that is happening now

And this pains me even more to see when foreigners are having jobs here by the many, and we have to venture overseas in search of survival.

The Online Citizen uploads a video report about the protest

Redbean thinks the crowd is smaller compared to the February 16 rally:

I was there as an observer, met some bloggers who have followed my blog and listened to the views of Singaporeans there, mostly negative. One thing, the crowd was much smaller than the previous rally, probably less than 3,000. But this time there were more media representations. The other point to note was the predominantly older crowd. The young were less represented, perhaps more busy having a good time while it still lasts.

It was a peaceful protest, according to Spotlight on Singapore

Another milestone on the road to democracy was achieved at Hong Lim Park today.

The crowd was good-natured and polite. Who says Singaporeans can’t protest peacefully?

Street demonstrations make for a greater impact but are banned. This is no surprise.

There were two events in the park on Labor Day. The protest was scheduled in the afternoon while a ‘picnic’ gathered about 400 hundred people in the morning. Breakfast Network described what took place in the picnic:

So it seems that the May Day picnic is just that: Getting people to be happy together. The group’s worry now is being able to cater for what they think would be a bigger crowd than the couple of hundred that had anticipated. Seems the group got more attention than they bargained for.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site