By Terry Xu
Close to 200 individuals turned up for a protest event held at Hong Lim Park yesterday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The event, titled "Is our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong the right person to lead Singapore?" was jointly organised by Mr William Lim and Mr Osman Sulaiman after a petition by Mr Lim was circulated, which called for PM Lee to step down.
The Facebook event page wrote:
"We cannot allow a leader who has no competency and heart to lead the country. We cannot allow a leader who is devoid of compassion to continue and pile on miseries towards citizens any longer.
It's time for him to step down from office and allow a true leader with the appropriate skills, knowledge, competency and foresight to take over and lead Singapore to the next era."
Most of the eight speakers have said that citizens have suffered from the flawed policies enacted by PM Lee over the past ten years while him was leading the country.
Mr Lim said that he lost respect for PM Lee after the Population White Paper was pushed through Parliament in February this year, and the subsequent the suing of local blogger Roy Ngerng. He also took offence with the statement made by PM Lee at a community event in May, where the PM had said “Singapore belongs to all of us” which he said included “Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here.”
Mr Osman Sulaiman, co-organiser of the event, said that PM Lee should step down as the government under his leadership do not care for its people.
One of the points that Mr Osman raised was the quota for the number of graduates set by the Ministry of Education. This was revealed from the U.S wires published in Wikileaks.
"While they limit the numbers of Singaporeans to enter the university, they bring in all those foreigners on taxpayers' money and spend this money to enrich these people," he said.
Also speaking at the protest was candidate for the 2011 Presidential Election, Mr Tan Kin Lian.
Mr Tan said that under the leadership of PM Lee, the cost of living has grown to a level that is far too high. He pointed out that Singapore is now the world's most expensive city in the world.
Although the government had clarified that the ranking only applies to expatiates, he retorted that the same high cost experienced by them also affects Singaporeans.
17 year-old blogger Arrifin Sha said that the government under PM Lee has overseen a gradual decline in governance. He said that the Population White Paper, which was touted to improve the country's economy, was little more than a last ditch effort and was proof that the government has run out of ideas.
"Instead of grooming local business, they resort to bringing in large numbers of foreigners. It may boost our economy for now, but it will also bring a whole new set of problems which have yet to unfold."
Former Secretary General of the National Solidarity Party Mr Goh Meng Seng said that PM Lee has sold out Singaporean citizens by removing the ban of food products from Fukushima, Japan where nuclear radiation is still believed to be present. He alleged that this move was made so that Japan will sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is still in the negotiation stage.
Mr Lim said to TOC that he was happy that the weather turned out fine, and there were more participants at the event than what they expected. However, one of the speakers attracted more "drama" than what they have originally expected.
Mr Mohammed Bashir took to the mound at Hong Lim Park and started giving examples of how the country has benefited from PM Lee's policies. When he said that it was not viable for the opposition parties to take over the country, he was shouted down with boos from the riled-up crowd.
Some of the attendees left the park in a fit of anger after hearing what Mr Bashir said, while others went to the front of the mound to ask him to get down.
Mr Bashir had wants to point out that, if opposition parties were to be voted into Parliament, they would have to establish their presence way before elections are called for and to progressively take more seats so that they can nudge the policies with each election.
He told TOC that he expected that to happen, and said that it would have been good if the crowd could listen to the entirety of his speech.
While some were at the event to support the resignation of PM Lee, a few were there just to hear what the speakers had to say. One lady who was worked up over Mr Bashir's speech said that his father's generation would have supported the PAP government fully, but if they were to be here today, they might not have done the same.
This year is Mr Lee's 10th year as the Prime Minister of Singapore and his 30th year in Parliament.