There was a protest on Saturday, 16th Feb 2013. While it was no Tahrir Square (Hong Lim Park is only 0.94 hectare, a full size football pitch measures 1.08 hectares), the gathering of like minded Singaporeans was numbered at 1,000 (AsiaOne Online), 2,000 (ChannelNewsAsia) and 4,000 (Yahoo!News). An on site call for a referendum on the population issue collected about 1,000 signatures, confirming more must have congregated on the rain soaked field that momentous weekend.
"Arab Spring" (Arabic: الربيع العربي , al-Rabeeʻa al-ʻArabi) was coined for the series of protests and demonstrations which fanned across the Middle East and North Africa. As of September 2012, four governments have been overthrown in countries of that region, including Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who Goh Chok Tong claimed to have "a good conversation" with in August 2009. "I would say he is an introspective person, reflective, thinking about the problems of his country. Certainly an astute person," said Goh, the "he" being Gaddafi, but could easily be inferred to as Lee, given the adulation he gushed of the prime minister's "courage" at the Population White Paper debate.
The Arab spring is widely believed to be incubated by dissatisfaction with the rule of local governments, with some speculating that wide gaps in income levels may have fueled the rising tide. Our local equivalent will be the abysmal Gini coefficient. Other factors attributing to the protests bear a familiar resonance too, such as issues of dictatorial tendencies, human rights violations, political corruption in high places, economic hardships, lost employment opportunities, extreme poverty for the destitute, and a number of demographic structural factors, key of which, in our context, is the dilution of the Singapore identity.
William Pesek of Bloomberg refers to the insidious addiction for more foreign imports as “Ponzi demography.” He describes the mechanism of the destructive process:
"The human-pyramid scheme works like this: Population growth, either through births or immigration, boosts demand for goods and services, increases borrowing, boosts tax revenue and adds to corporate profits. Everything seems grand and leaders take a bow. It’s a bubble, though, and it eventually bursts when population growth stalls. Incomes top out, high debt crushes consumption and investment, the need for public assistance rises, environmental degradation increases and angry people take to the streets."
Thanks to naïveté and misplaced trust in a Government over decades of surreptitious betrayal, the bubble is already here. The ridiculous extremities of affordability are evidenced by the $100,000 public housing units for the poor and $100,000 certificates of entitlement for the filthy rich. When the bubble bursts, as it surely must, it won't be a pretty sight. Those high worth individuals will be the first to take flight with their ill-gotten cash, leaving the lesser mortals with the deleterious aftermath of bad governance. Perhaps then, the people will step off the Hong Lim green and march onto the streets.
Meanwhile they continue to hide behind words. When Lee Kuan Yew missed his Chinese New Year dinner, they said "Mr Lee was not feeling well and had extended his apologies for not being at the event." That was euphemism for a stroke, attributed to a prolonged episode of atrial fibrillation, and a dash to the hospital. They even used a high falutin term, transient ischaemic attack (TIA), which basically means his brain was deprived of blood flow and oxygen. Not that we care, we are sick of it all.