A record 3000 protestors turned up at Hong Lim Park today to protest against the PAP’s endorsement of the population White Paper. 77 PAP MPs have voted in favor of the White Paper to bring Singapore’s population to 6 million and beyond. The motion was passed in a landslide decision where only 13 MPs consisting of Opposition MPs, NCMPs and NMPs objected. As Singapore’s infrastructures continue to falter under the current 5.3 million people, more Singaporeans are stepping up and voicing their dissatisfaction with the proposed 6 million plan. The protest today marked one of the biggest turnout in Singapore since Independence, with many Singaporeans holding placards condemning the authoritarian PAP government’s decision to proceed ahead of the White Paper.
Through the PAP-controlled mainstream media, the PAP government has earlier claimed that the White Paper was proposed after a series of public feedback sessions called the National Conversation, it must have been baffling of them to see backlash of such scale. Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong has also claimed that the way how his government presented the White Paper was wrong and an editorial article by the Straits Times even gone to the extent saying that the only reason why “some” Singaporeans have raised objections is because they lack the understanding and sophastication behind the White Paper. Several government-affiliated business organizations like the Singapore National Employer Federation(SNEF), Association of Small and Medium Enterprises(ASMEs) and the Restaurant Association of Singapore(RAS) have raised support for the White Paper saying that their businesses have suffered tremendously ever since the Ministry of Manpower tightened the foreign worker quota. The RAS even gone to the extent of threatening that food prices will increase due to a lack of manpower. Companies in Singapore have profited greatly from the influx of cheap foreign labor, the country was able to chart record GDP growth as a result from the savings made in salaries. Singaporean employees were marginalized and have their salaries depressed as a result of the loose labor market.
On the day before the protest, former Mentor Minister Lee Kuan Yew was admitted to the Singapore General Hospital for a sudden cardiovascular attack that briefly stopped blood to the brain. While it is unverified if Lee Kuan Yew had a stroke, it appears that the 89 year old couldn’t carry out his duties anymore as a Member of Parliament. Lee doesn’t attend Meet-the-People sessions anymore and he is hardly heard in the Parliament over the past 2 years. It is unlikely Lee will be able to stand for the 2016 General Elections, that is of course provided he leave past many expectations that he will be dead before then. Lee’s constituency, Tanjong Pagar GRC, has remained uncontested ever since the undemocratic GRC system was introduced to help the PAP win more seats in Parliament.
Moving forward after the 2 events today, it appears that the PAP government has finally lost its mandate over the people and a change of government for Singapore is very likely to happen within the next few elections. If the Workers’ Party could field the same 22 candidates it did during GE2011, they could easily take out 4 GRCs or 4 Ministerial seats. The loss of 4 Ministerial seats can easily capulate PAP into a crisis and they may be forced to form a coalition government with the Workers’ Party. However, how would future events turn out is still dependent on PAP’s current actions. If they continue to refuse to reduce the population figure, it will not be a surprise that the PAP become an Opposition party themselves then.