On 16 February 2013, a few thousand Singaporeans gathered at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim park to protest against the white paper which was approved by parliament 77 votes to 13, which stated a target population of 6.9 million in 2030. This probably took many people by surprise, for it has been years since Singaporeans had gathered to protest something at a smaller scale, much less a protest of this level. Besides the protesters, countless other Singaporeans have also expressed their unhappiness with it. So, why are Singaporeans so unhappy with this white paper and why are they even going to the level of holding a protest in the body, instead of just firing off comments of disgust over the cover of the Internet? This is my take on it…


Main Reasons Singaporeans Are Unhappy With The White Paper:

  1. High Intake of foreigners and its effects

From the very beginning, Singaporeans already have had grouses with the large number of foreigners in Singapore, accusing them of not only bringing their bad habits here but also being the culprits of inflation in things like property, as well as taking jobs from the locals, be it a low wage, medium wage or high flyer job. The white paper would mean an increase in the intake of foreigners, to make up almost half of the population. The first issue at hand about this is an erosion of national identity, a situation where a Singaporean cannot take a walk in the street and feel like he/she is at home, for there will be so many foreigners, it will be harder to establish the Singaporean identity.

The second issue is the job market, right now many jobs are already taken up by foreigners, be it low skilled jobs such as cleaners or high flying jobs like investment consultants. With a larger number of foreigners and the continuity of the current trend where foreigners are hired in the place of locals for cheaper payment rates, the burning questions are will there still be jobs for Singaporeans to take up and will Singaporeans have to play second fiddle to foreigners and thus live a second rate life in their own country? The thought of a clouded future is what makes so many Singaporeans unhappy over the white  paper and its plausible consequences.

The third issue is that quite a portion of the foreigners living here come here not for low skilled jobs but higher paying ones, or to set up a business, and this means that they can be quite financially well off. If they choose to settle down here, they become competitors of the locals in the property and vehicle market, and with more demand, the prices will increase. These foreigners have been blamed for the inflation of prices in many areas, principally property and vehicles. With more foreigners in the future, competition in these areas be stiffer and prices will go really high up, such that things like property become not so easily affordable by even the middle class Singaporeans, which turns back to the issue of Singaporeans having to lead a second rate life in their own country.

The final issue is more targeted at national defence. With so many foreigners, Singaporeans are thinking, especially parents of sons, who will ponder in the 2 years that Singaporean males serve National Service, where they garner little income, suffer and lag behind their female and foreigner counterparts in their studies, who are they serving to defend, Singapore and its Singaporeans, or the huge chunk of foreigners? Since foreigners are not made to serve national service, male foreigner students would have an edge over local male National Servicemen in their studies, which is a case of Singaporeans playing second fiddle to foreigners yet again. The other big grouse is since foreigners do not serve National Service, should Singapore ever be embroiled in a war conflict, they believe not many of all the foreigners in Singapore would stay here and play their part to protect Singapore, but would instead leave it to the locals to sacrifice their lives to protect them, or take flight back to their homeland.


    2.Transport infrastructure problems and inconveniences

As we all already know, the national transport system is facing big issues. There has been many MRT breakdowns, the trains have been slowed down, the trains are always packed during peak hours, buses are not frequent enough, they are also always packed during peak hours, and even the taxis are lacking in number during peak hours. With so many problems already at hand, Singaporeans feel that with a population increase to 6.9 million, it will be even harder to squeeze into the train/bus or find a taxi when going to and fro from work, and that Singapore’s once efficient transport system will evolve into an overpopulated metropolitan city’s, where people have to queue and wait for some time just to get on a train/bus or take a taxi.

This gross inconvenience makes Singaporeans very unhappy, and the fact that roads are always jammed due to there already being so many cars is not helping either, and with a population increase, there will be more cars on the road, and due to the effect of appreciating COE prices due to the latter, more would be unable to afford cars, perhaps in favour of higher paid foreigners, which once again revolves around Singaporeans playing second fiddle to foreigners. Furthermore, Singaporeans feel that Singapore is already crowded as it is, and it does not need so many more foreigners around to make life harder for us.


Why Did Singaporeans Physically Go To Protest Against The White Paper Instead Of Online Complaints

Singaporeans are already sick and tired of sparking flames on the Internet about their grouses and complaining to the MPs at the meet the people sessions but not having their opinions truly heard. They feel that if they do not increase the gravity of their opinions, in this case a physical protest, the government will continue to ignore them and run the country in a way that it is against the favour of Singaporeans. What jolted Singaporeans further was that while there were PAP MPs, in which PAP makes up the majority of parliament, who spoke out against the white paper, they still voted in parliament to approve it, and the fact that it was only the opposition and NCMPs  who opted against the white paper, they feel that the ruling party is abusing its ruling position to pass their policies in parliament, to an extent that even a member of the party who spoke out against the white paper voted to have it passed. They hope that this method of protest will make the government hear their opinions and work on change progressively, for they have already had enough of what they feel is ignorance by the government.





These are just my take on things and is not directed at anyone nor is it the voice of another person.


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