Monday, 5 May 2014

Labour Day 2014 Protest At Hong Lim Park

S'pore rally against immigration

A man sits beside a protest poster during a Labour Day protest in Hong Lim Park or Speaker's Corner in Singapore on Thursday. Police had warned the organisers of the rally, who had been accused of spreading xenophobia against foreign workers. (EPA photo)

About 350 people gathered at a park in Singapore on Thursday to protest against immigration policies that they say are too lax.

A small but growing number of discontented locals blame the higher cost of living on foreigners and have been lambasting the government for its so-called soft immigration policies.

Organised by activist Gilbert Goh, Thursday's protest follows recent racial abuse heaped on a group of Filipinos on the island who were planning to celebrate their Independence Day at the city-state's main shopping belt. Critics say they should hold their celebrations at the Philippine Embassy.


Mayday Protest: Immigrant policies are prime reasons for labour woes


Over 600 attended the May Day protest event held at Hong Lim Park on Labour Day, 1st May 2014. The event was organized by Transitioning.org, a local organization which helps locals who lost their jobs and are in need of help.

The main emphasis of the speeches by the speakers is on immigrant policies which the speakers referred to as flawed policies by the ruling party, People’s Action Party (PAP), which resulted in foreigners taking jobs from locals.

“Vote them out” was chanted throughout the demonstration. “Them” was meant to refer to the PAP.

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Singapore protesters attack immigration, jobs policies


A man displays placards at speakers corner during a labour day protest in Singapore on 1 May 2014. Around 400 protestors turned up with some wearing black headbands emblazoned with the words "Protect Singaporean Rights" and chanted slogans calling for the long-ruling People's Action Party to step down (Photo: AFP / Roslan Rahman)

Hundreds of Singaporeans rallied Thursday to denounce the government's immigration and labour policies amid a fresh wave of anti-foreigner sentiment in the city-state.

Protesters, estimated by an AFP reporter to number around 400, wore black headbands with the words "Protect Singaporean Rights" in red as they chanted slogans against the long-ruling People's Action Party.

Protest leader Gilbert Goh, an employment counsellor, said the rally was intended to display Singaporeans' continued dissatisfaction with the large foreign population in the city-state. "When we speak up for the country, we are branded as xenophobes, " he told AFP. "I am doing all this for my country, I am willing to die for my country."


Six speakers take stage at Hong Lim Park protest

May Day protest at Speakers Corner

Yesterday’s event was the second Labour Day protest organised by Mr Gilbert Goh, who runs transitioning.org. Those who were in attendance were encouraged to wear a black headband bearing the slogan Protect Singaporean Rights.

The police had on Wednesday contacted Mr Goh regarding his Facebook post calling on the public to deface a poster of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the demonstration.

The police had also advised Mr Goh against carrying out such activities during the demonstration, as they could be considered offences under the Penal Code and the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act.


Singapore protesters hit out at immigration and labour policies

Protesters, estimated to number around 400, wore black headbands with the words "Protect Singaporean Rights" in red as they chanted slogans against the long-ruling People's Action Party. Photo: EPA

Hundreds of Singaporeans rallied yesterday to denounce the government's immigration and labour policies amid a fresh wave of anti-foreigner sentiment in the city state.

Protesters, estimated to number around 400, wore black headbands with the words "Protect Singaporean Rights" in red as they chanted slogans against the long-ruling People's Action Party.

Protest leader Gilbert Goh, an employment counsellor, said the rally was intended to display Singaporeans' continued dissatisfaction with the large foreign population in the city.


Labour Day protest at Hong Lim Park


A few hundred people gathered for a Labour Day protest at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park on Thursday.

Several speakers took to the stage, speaking on issues like population, elderly workers, unemployment, foreign workers and ministerial salaries.

The speakers included protest organiser Gilbert Goh, who runs a website about unemployment.


Singaporeans rally against immigration policies


About 350 people gathered at a park in Singapore on Thursday to protest against immigration policies that they say are too lax.

A small but growing number of discontented locals blame the higher cost of living on foreigners and have been lambasting the government for its so-called soft immigration policies.

Organized by activist Gilbert Goh, Thursday's protest follows recent racial abuse heaped on a group of Filipinos on the island who were planning to celebrate their Independence Day at the city-state's main shopping belt. Critics say they should hold their celebrations at the Philippine Embassy.


Labour Day 2014 protest at Hong Lim Park


About 350 Singaporeans gathered at Hong Lim Park on 1 May 2014 to protest the government's so-called liberal immigration policies.

The event was organised by activist Gilbert Goh, who was a day before warned by police against a plan to deface a giant poster of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Check out the highlights from the protest in our slideshow, and read the story on it here.


Police warn Gilbert Goh against plan to deface PM Lee poster at May Day protest

Yahoo Newsroom - Singapore protest organiser Gilbert Goh showing off an effigy. (YouTube screengrab)

Police on Wednesday warned activist Gilbert Goh against an online call he made to deface a poster of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at his protest event at Hong Lim Park, planned for Thursday.

In a public post Goh shared on his personal Facebook page on Saturday, 19 April, he encouraged participants of his planned “labour day protest” to “vent their anger” at a “huge poster” of PM Lee, which he planned to display at the event. 

“You can spit, throw eggs, splash dog poo, draw graffiti and kick at the poster of our Prime Minister,” he wrote. “We don’t need to respect him at all… for he has never care [sic] for us one bit.”


Older workers a concern on May Day

Employment of older workers in Singapore is the centre of concern for this year’s May Day

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has nodded in favour to extend the re-employment age beyond 65, while Workers’ Party has expressed concern that more than 50 per cent of older workers retrenched last year only found work after 6 months.

“Many have lamented about being replaced by younger workers, including foreigners earning lower salaries,” said the Workers’ Party in their May Day’s press statement.

The party reiterated, “Employers should give priority to hiring Singaporeans, and foreign workers should be employed only in positions that Singaporeans are unable to fill.”


Newsbites – about protests, and May Day

The police has warned social activist Gilbert Goh regarding his Facebook post, which allegedly called on the public to deface a poster of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a planned Labour Day protest at Hong Lim Park today.

The following was published on the Singapore Police Force Facebook page:
Police have contacted Mr Gilbert Goh on 30 April 2014 regarding his online post (19 April 2014) that called on the public to deface and denigrate a poster of the Prime Minister during Goh’s planned demonstration at Hong Lim Park on 1 May 2014. Mr Goh was advised against carrying out such activities during the demonstration as they may constitute offences under the Penal Code and the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act. Mr Goh was also advised to remove any online postings that called on participants of his demonstration to conduct activities that might be against the law.
The Speakers’ Corner is a designated outdoor area for Singaporeans to express their views in public. Mr Goh is free to hold his planned demonstration at the Speakers’ Corner, but it is also his responsibility to ensure that any activities conducted during the demonstration do not contravene the law.

Protest organiser Gilbert Goh advised against defacing poster of PM

The police have contacted social activist Gilbert Goh regarding his Facebook post calling on the public to deface a poster of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a planned Labour Day demonstration at Hong Lim Park tomorrow (May 1).

In a statement to the media, the police said Mr Goh, who organised the protest, was advised against carrying out such activities during the demonstration, as they could be considered offences under the Penal Code and the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act.

“Mr Goh was also advised to remove any online postings that called on participants of his demonstration to conduct activities that might be against the law,” the police said.

related:

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Mothership Memo: May Day Special



Analysing the important news for you daily

Mothership Memo is Mothership’s daily brief on the important headlines of the day. We will also contribute our views on the issues at hand.

Six political parties shared their May Day messages with the public yesterday.

related: Missed the May Day Protest again? Find out more about the man who wished you didn’t


May Day Rally 2014: Contradictions and the “Communist” spin once again


On the surface, when listening to the Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong at the May Day Rally 2014, a very clear theme stands out – the government wants Singaporeans to work longer.

But pry deeper and you can see the subtle contradictions and the leading message that the government wants to put out.

Much has been discussed about how the prime minister would like to extend the re-employment age beyond 65. At the start of the speech, the prime minister brought out three groups of Singaporeans and said that he would promise to help them:


PM LEE: SINGAPORE AT A TURNING POINT, BUT WE ARE HANDLING IT WELL



Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his annual May Day Rally speech acknowledged that keeping Singapore open brings the stress of competition for jobs from foreigners. The Government is slowing down the inflow of foreign workers, "but we must not send the wrong signal that Singapore doesn't welcome investments or we are turning away talent", he cautioned. He pointed out that Singapore is at a turning point, with the economy and society undergoing major transitions. By any international measure, the country is doing well, although changes have brought new strains, including heightened competition, widening gaps in society, and worries over the cost of living.

The Government will keep up its efforts to grow the economy, expand exports and draw foreign investments, so that workers will have better jobs, which would bring better lives.

He also urged companies to raise productivity by tapping on government schemes, raising the example of two small- and medium-sized enterprise that used subsidies to automate its production, Fong Shen Mould and Precision Engineering.


SINGAPORE PEOPLE'S PARTY – LABOUR DAY MESSAGE 2014



May Day is an auspicious day to celebrate and honour workers’ contributions to the nation. It is also a time to rally Singaporeans particularly the youths to have a stake and future of the nation.

For Budget 2014, the government dished out GST vouchers – this is nothing new. We have them almost every year. They also rolled out the Pioneer Generation Package, which is long overdue. The scheme is also so complicated that the government has problems trying to get people to understand it.

While these are positive initiatives, the SPP feels that at this point in the evolution of the socio-economic needs of Singaporeans, the government must go further to help Singaporeans. It is not sufficient just to create jobs. It is equally important to create relevant jobs that Singaporeans want and can handle. Tools and policies must also be aligned to ensure employers do not prioritize short term cost savings over long run productivity growth. It is only economically sound to allow non-competitive firms to restructure, move overseas or wind down so that resources can be freed up for the most competitive local firms.

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REFORM PARTY’S MAY DAY MESSAGE 2014



Reform Party notes the NTUC chief and PAP Minister Lim Swee Say’s May Day message to the workers of Singapore. As usual with PAP government messages, it made little or no economic sense. It contained nothing new and was the familiar mixture of simultaneously telling our workers to work harder (the “Cheaper Better Faster” slogan again) and shifting the blame for the PAP’s own failed economic model. The PAP seem to expect the Singaporean worker to be like Boxer, the carthorse in Animal Farm. He recited every day the mantra “I must work harder! Comrade Napoleon is always right!” until finally he fell sick and was sent off to the glue factory.

Lim talks about a tighter labour market lasting till 2020 but strangely seems to regard this as an evil rather than something to be welcomed, as we do. Perhaps our workers will finally enjoy some real wage gains after years in which wages have failed to keep pace with inflation once housing costs are properly measured. Those in the bottom 40% have probably seen declining real wages over the last ten years though accurate statistics are hard to come by. A tighter labour market should actually be the norm rather than the exception particularly if we want to encourage productivity growth by encouraging firms to use less labour.

So why has it not been the norm in Singapore? We should remind ourselves that it was the PAP who deliberately adopted a policy of opening the floodgates to an abundant supply of cheap labour from the rest of Asia as a means of boosting economic growth. Economic growth was indeed artificially boosted but at the cost of stagnant productivity growth and rising income inequality. Your wages suffered and in order to maintain your real incomes you ended up working the longest hours of any nation in the developed world.

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WP MAY DAY 2014 MESSAGE: VALUE THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF MATURE WORKERS



LABOUR Day is the day we honour the hardworking men and women who provide for our families and power the wheels of our economy. Singapore has one of the most competitive and skilled workforces in the world. The progress of our economy and our nation has been built on the backs of our workers, and our nation owes them a debt of gratitude.

Even as we celebrate the progress made by many of our workers, one group of workers who are of particular concern to us are our mature workers. Close to two-thirds of resident workers made redundant in 2013 were aged 40 and above, and this group is less likely than younger workers to re-enter employment after being made redundant. Less than half of the workers aged 40 and above re-entered employment within 6 months of redundancy in 2013. Many have lamented about being replaced by younger workers, including foreigners earning lower salaries.

Our Party has stated before that employers should give priority to hiring Singaporeans, and foreign workers should be employed only in positions that Singaporeans are unable to fill. The Fair Consideration Framework, which is expected to go into effect later this year, must work for the benefit of Singaporeans, including mature Singaporean workers.

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SDP MAY DAY MESSAGE: FORTUNES OF WORKERS AND SDP ARE INSEPARABLE



Even as we celebrate May Day, we must remember that Singapore's workers continue to labour under a system that makes life harder for them. Here are some indicators:
  • Singaporeans work the most number of hours compared to other similar economies.
  • We are the most stressful place to live in Asia
  • We are the unhappiest people in the world.
  • Singaporean workers were found to enjoy going to work the least and have the least supportive workplaces. 
  • At the end of our working lives, we cannot withdraw our CPF savings for retirement.
On top of this, the Government will continue to bring in 20,000 foreign nationals every year that will add even more pressure on our workers struggling in an already over-crowded city. The situation is untenable, it will cause a breakdown of our social cohesion and undermine our national security.

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Working Up a Protest on Labour Day



– Five Stars and a Moon: Notes from May Day Protests at Hong Lim Park
– Ariffin Sha: Wind of Change
– Anyhow Hantam: The Office of Prime Minister Should be Respected
– Everything Also Complain: Gilbert wants you to splash dog poo at PM Lee’s foto
– AnonymousX: Gilbert calling on public to deface a poster of PM Lee on May Day!
– Wise Mental King: 2048: Gilbert Goh edition
– New Nation: Upset May Day protest show S’poreans are not really that dissatisfied
– Singapore in General: A failed restructuring will be painful for all: Lim Swee Say
– Masked Crusader: May Day Message for MOM
– Five Stars and a Moon: Making work, work

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