SINGAPORE Feb 6 Singapore is to hold a rare
anti-government demonstration against plans for a dramatic
increase in immigration that would boost the island's population
by as much as 30 percent by 2030.
Discontent is growing in affluent Singapore over a rising
number of foreigners blamed for strains on infrastructure,
ballooning housing costs and transportation headaches in a
country slightly smaller than New York City.
Public expression is a delicate act in Singapore where
government figures, including elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew,
father of the current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, have sued
critical opposition MPs for defamation. Nearly all media are
Protest organiser Gilbert Goh said he hoped to attract 1,000
people to the Feb. 16 event at Speakers' Corner, a designated
park exempt from strict government controls over assemblies,
speeches and outdoor protests.
Nearly 1,100 people said on a Facebook page they will or may
join the demonstration against a government proposal on Jan. 29
to raise the population to 6.9 million. Of that, up to 36
percent, or 2.5 million, would be made up of foreign workers to
balance a low birth rate and sustain economic growth.
"Let us send a strong signal to our government that we don't
want 6.9 million people living here by 2030," Goh said.
The public generally supports Singapore's tough laws and
tight social controls as part of a social contract that in
return has delivered years of economic prosperity.
But calls for change are growing. Opposition parties won
record support in the 2011 general election. The long-ruling
People's Action Party, founded by Lee Kuan Yew, occupies 80 of
87 seats in parliament but lost two recent by-elections by
surprisingly large margins in signs of mounting discontent.
(Reporting by Kevin Lim Editing by Jason Szep and Nick Macfie)