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SINGAPORE: May Day protest at Speakers' Corner draws thousands

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posted on May, 2 2013 @ 10:41 AM

SINGAPORE: May Day protest at Speakers' Corner draws thousands

[UPDATE 1 May, 1109pm: Updated attendance numbers]

A huge crowd turned up at the Speaker's Corner at Hong Lim Park Wednesday afternoon to again protest the government's plans to let in more immigrants to counter Singapore's ageing population.

Wire agency AFP estimated the crowd reached 3,000 people though event organiser Gilbert Goh eventually put the final number between 5,000 and 6,000.

The protest on the grey-cast, drizzly day was organised as a sequel to the first protest in February, which was one of the largest protests held in the city-state. That event held in a light drizzle drew about 4,000.

In his opening speech at about 4pm, Goh of, a support site for the unemployed and the event organiser, said more protests would be held at the park.

As the crowd swelled, he also asked attendees to wave their pink identification cards to show they were not foreigners, as non-Singaporeans were discouraged from attending the event.

"I am not against foreigners but we are against the policy of allowing a company to hire 100 per cent foreigners," he said.

"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," Goh asserted.

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.The first protest in February was a backlash to a government white paper projecting that Singapore's population could increase to as much as 6.9 million in 2030 with almost half of the number made up of foreigners.

He noted that Singapore was one of the founders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations but while other member states have human rights commissions, the city-state does not.

He said that the government, employers and trade unions were supposed to protect workers' rights, but the three-way 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.

Wham, executive director of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), said he had also come to realise that Singapore has one of the highest income inequality rates in the world, and that people needed to speak up.

"The poor may not dare to speak up and make themselves heard because they find thatit is shameful," he said.

He also pointed out that what poor families in Singapore need are not handouts but "a decent wage with decent hours and decent working conditions".

edit on 5/2/2013 by wisdomnotemotion because: missing close bracket


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