The speeches at the protest touched on the need to restructure our economy, to preserve our identity and to address the real problems faced by Singaporeans. While many of the views are similar to what has been expressed by the opposition in parliament and numerous bloggers on the Internet, the interactive response from the large crowd gives us a feel of how strongly they oppose various parts of the White Paper.
By now the White Paper has been largely discredited with its numerous flaws and unsubstantiated claims that increasing the population will lead to higher quality of life and better job opportunities for Singaporeans. Ordinary Singaporeans now have a good understanding of the outcomes of PAP's immigration policies of the last 15 years after their first hand experience of the net result of these policies. They are not just opposing the White Paper but what the PAP has done for the last decade. Many of the deleterious effects of past policies such widening income gap, low wages, low productivity, rising cost of living, middle class squeeze and declining quality of life are now better understood by ordinary Singaporeans. For this reason, Singaporeans do not want the govt to along the same path of growing the economy by importing people. PAP's policies, if anything looks like it is built on a fallacy that govt needs only to do what businesses want to benefit ordinary citizens - trickle down economics does not work when you have a large income gap and it is never going to work in a country with the 2nd highest (sometimes highest) income gap among developed countries...where the benefits of growth goes to a small number at the top and the negative effects spread to everyone in society.
WP's Low Thia Khiang said in parliament that the proposal in the White Paper will send our country on a "path of no return". If we go along this path, foreigners will dominate a larger segment of our economy and society displacing Singaporeans. The dependence on foreigners will keep growing and at some point we will not be able to turn back, we will not have enough control of our economy to shape the future for our children and our grandchildren.
"Lets not forget the economy exists to serve the people not the people the economy"
- Speaker Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss
.The fear of permanent displacement far exceeds the fear of a temporary slowdown that might have occur if we choose to restructure the economy. The PAP has lost precious time since GE2011 to get us back on the right path. It now tells us that it wants to double down on policies that have failed to deliver a better quality of life for Singaporeans. It is no surprise that Singaporeans are enraged by the White Paper.
The White Paper has more or less killed the fledgling National Conversation. What is the point of a conversation when something so major is pushed through parliament and endorsed with so little consultation with the public.