Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Gilbert Goh: Why I Organised the Labour Day Sequel Protest (1st May 2013)

10th April 2013

Dear Singaporeans,

By now, many of you would have known  of the labour day sequel protest – For a Better Singapore – organised about 2 1/2 months after the historic protest on 16 Feb.
Many people have also questioned whether the sequel  is organised  too soon whereas some have told me that it’s too late!

A sequel protest is  always hard to organise especially after a intensely successful event planned for the initial one.

The second labour day protest will once again feature on the 6.9 million population white paper and other matters that affect Singaporeans which include minimum wage, proper  labour legistration for both foreign and local workers, retirement planning among others.
However, I am heartened to know that to date, more than 460 people have indicated on our Facebook event page that they are attending the protest  sequel event – just after a week of our public announcement.

Another 150 have also indicated that they may be dropping by.

About  7000 facebook invitations have been sent out and the way it goes, we are confident that more than 10, 000 invitations will be sent out by the time the event commences on labour day.
We have forecasted a 10,000-size crowd and hopefully we can make it – can we count on you Singaporeans?

We urge the 4000 die-hard Singaporean warriors who braved the rain and mud on our first protest on  16 Feb  to come back again and if possible bring a friend along.

I have also heard from many friends who told me that many of their invited friends are afraid to turn up for the first protest but now they are coming for the sequel  as no one was arrested during the event and all of us went home in one piece!

I also want to reiterate again that speakers’ corner is a government-approved site for pprotest and demonstration though all speakers have to register themselves online with NParks for a speaking permit.

I have got my speaking permit and the permit number is

BOOKING ID: SP-12032013-1

I was surprised that many people do not know that we don’t need a protest permit at speakers’ corner at all and many people kept asking me for one – even those from the press!

Read this article from channelnewsasia dated 25 Aug 2008  to soothe your fear – Singapore can demonstrate at speakers’ corner from Sep 1

However, I must reiterate that its important  to maintain a united peaceful presence during the protest  and we hope to bring back the power of the people back to our country.

Don’t take me wrong – I am  not advocating for a illegal revolution here but clearly the people’s voices have been drowned out during five decades of fear-instigating repressive rule  – not unlike that of a autocratic dictator and we need to gather peacefully and legitimately to voice out our concern as one united people.

Many people have also told me that we can go to the ballot boxes once every five years but what happen to the period in between?

Many Singaporeans I know complaint and rant behind the moniker of their facebook page  or socio-political websites but is that enough?

We need to bring back the freedom of expression to our people abeit in a legal peaceful manner.

I have met many friends who told me that they felt frustrated whenever they saw how a policy was rammend down their thorat and they could not do anything about it.

The MPs they elected also were not very helpful especially if they belong to the ruling party and they have to vote according to the party’s whip.

Hopefully, speakers’ corner will provide that space for them to come out in one voice of peaceful defiance.

For too long, we have stayed fragmented, disunited and self-centred and the government has use this to their advantage.

When we used the word protest  for our first event, I faced strong objection from many of our volunteers – some tried to persuade me to use nicer sounding words like gathering, hang-out and even picnic!

I told them that the mass gathering was against an unpopular policy and protest was the right word. I was glad that we sticked with the word and everything was smooth after that.
I think that we may be too law-abiding  and compliant for our own good here.

Peaceful unifying civil disobedience gatherings that are  conducted peacefully and within the law is needed here so that our authorities could hear us loud and clear!

I believe the first protest has opened up the clear path for us to come up regularly in a peaceful unifying manner protesting as one united body against any policies that we  dislike.

A reporter from LianHe ZaoBao has asked me recently when she was gathering feedback on an article for her paper how often will we organise such mass protests.

I told her that so long the government does not listen to us and continue to pass down irresponsible policies that will harm the country – we will show up at Hong Lim Park to voice our displeasure.

Many ambiguous policies that are detrimental to the country were pushed through during the past few years as there is no unifying  voice from the people  and the camel’s straw breaker came when the government announced that they are going to bring in 6.9 million population to our country by the year 2030.

What particularly irked most Singaporeans is that there is no consultation whatsoever with the people and 77 men in white voted in a white paper that will have severe adverse repercussions for Singapore.

I have saw how accommodating the government has been since they lost the Punggol East by-election and hopefully our first mass protest has also caused them to relent.

Our recent budget has been the most worker-friendly I have seen in decades and hopefully the government will continue to listen to our voices.

Of course, we don’t want our government to back away from a policy whenever we protest but clearly we want them to be more consultative and open to discussion.

So Singaporeans, I am proud to say that your voice has been heard after the first massive protest turn-out and can we count on you to come out again for our second labour day protest?

Gilbert Goh
Sequel Protest organiser – For A Better Singapore

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