Singaporeans have staged a rare demonstration, in protest at government plans to allow more immigration. Organisers said more than 4,000 people attended the rally, making it one of Singapore’s largest ever protests.
They are angry at a recent government policy paper that predicted the population would grow by 30% to 6.9 million by 2030, with immigrants making up nearly half that figure. Many locals blame immigration for rises in property prices and living costs.
The peaceful three-hour rally took place in heavy rain at a park venue known as Speakers’ Corner, where protests are allowed without a police permit. Only a handful of uniformed officers were seen close by,
The crowds, protected from the downpours by a sea of umbrellas, came out to voice their displeasure at the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) immigration policies, rally organisers said.
“The large crowd here shows the PAP government that they are not afraid any more, they don’t want to hide behind a moniker on Facebook to show their displeasure,” chief organiser Gilbert Goh, a former opposition candidate for parliament, told AFP news agency.
“They are showing their deep displeasure with the white paper.” Singapore is known for its strict social controls and intolerance of dissent.
Saturday’s protest came as news emerged that Singapore’s first prime minister, 89-year-old Lee Kuan Yew, has been taken to hospital with a brain-related blockage.
Mr Lee, who is the father of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will remain in hospital while he recovers from a suspected transient ischaemic attack, which occurs when blood flow to the brain stops for a period of time, a statement from his son’s office said.