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The People’s Voice – Twinkle thoughts on Singapore White Paper for Population February 12, 2013

Posted by @Karen_Fu in Singapore.
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Back on Facebook catching up with news.

These days, I prefer reading online. It’s clean, snappy and way more fun; making it an extremely efficient and colourful form of media to catch the news apart from the gruesome weather. No need to stack newspapers and that does save plenty of space. Personally, I don’t like politics and I always make that clear that it interferes with issues in shades of grey when it shouldn’t be. But ironically, we need it in our society. I suppose we cannot run lives without politics. However, I often worry about the state of leadership here. It does seem to be in a mess.

The recent white paper on population has caused lots of stir though not to the tipping point of brewing a storm. Not because the situation is not serious, but more because of the fact that most of us have been very silent and law-abiding citizens who often choose to listen and just follow. We will not riot, not demonstrate or go into the streets with batons like many people in some countries do when things don’t go right. Actually to be really honest, we are very tolerant people here. The spate of concerns from various individuals have stated their thoughts on both human and natural environments clearly shows the intellectual capacity of locals here. So what kind of world we will have in some 17 years time, when our population density soars from the current 7500 people per square kilometer to 9000+? The matter is not confined to physical crowdedness alone where many infrastructures like public transport, health care, education et cetra fail to function even at satisfactory levels. People are all under strain too from the way we live, study, work and even sleep. We are like nocturnal animals. Many stayed up late at night. Yet many need to get up early. At one point, people have exclaimed that we are some of the fastest walking people around in the world. Agreeably we are. But what are busy about? For what? And why are we made to be so busy even when there is not much to be actually busy? Its crazy. When things go in this magnitude, even the quietest citizen will make a noise. I am making a noise now. I mean we don’t even have space for the dead. Bukit Brown, which has one of the largest Chinese cemeteries outside China, is undergoing partial exhumation to give way to urban development. To me, that is harsh to bring the dead up after they are supposed to be peacefully buried for several decades. Their descendants have dutifully keep the tombs neat and in Asian tradition, the dead are very important part of the living. The witness of these tombs being knocked down and bones being dug up isn’t a very palatable sight. And trust me, you can even feel very sad just looking at the process. It takes the coldest hearts to make the decision to knock down tombs. Especially the deceased ancestors who suffered for us to ensure we live a far better life than theirs.

I believe the forthcoming peaceful rally at Hong Lim Park on the 16 February will be historic. At least in Singapore History, it will be. It will be the first massive rally that is gaining global attention from BBC, Bloomberg to Reuters. Yahoo to Facebook, from Straits Times to Zaobao. It will be the first massive rally since the 50s/60s. The first peaceful defiance since independence in 1965, from a nation where people have stayed silent and been listening almost all the time. Because the government is usually right. And rightfully, it has been largely correct. Except for this time over a span of the last 5-10 years that things start to go upside down.

As a citizen, I share a worry here. What will be the legacy after this? Do we have a leader like Mr Lee Kuan Yew? Many do not like Mr Lee Kuan Yew, but we cannot deny he was the one to hold up a fine team to bring Singapore out of the murky shadows back in the 50s. He unified scarred pieces into one efficient piece ready to take off. The team he had was a different one from the team now. They knew what genuine hardship was and how it was to be looked down. That garnered people’s voice and hence people’s action to put them into governance for the next few decades. His credibility to get things done was absolute. I doubt we have anyone like him, who is identified globally as an extremely capable statesman of impressive foresight on various areas in economics, politics et cetra. We can be a tiny country. But who says we need to act like one and be stamped over like one? If we cannot see big beyond our land size, and think a lot of things cannot be done because we are a tiny country; then we will be finished. To think that increasing population by some 30 percent given the mere landfilled increase of less than 10 percent isn’t going to see us well economically. We seem to dote on rise in human population to get prosperity, which i think is wrong. Unless we use unique technologies to increase space and harness great creativity to house people, I cannot see how we can live with 6.9 million under conventional terms on land reclamation and living in high rise buildings that tower way up above the ground and tunneling deep underground for extra space. I wonder if anyone would worry about over stressing the structure of the earth below our feet, but I suppose my worry may be overlooked.

Times have changed. It is no longer a time when people just sit back and let problems auto solve itself. It’s happening everywhere, not just in Singapore. What makes it unique here is that people have suddenly turned awake about politics. We usually do not bother about it. I wasn’t brought up to stay politically aware. Neither were my parents. Politics is unimportant for us. To us, a peaceful and prosperous life of abundant opportunities and in great health is tonnes more important than politics.

This rally at Hong Lim Park will be marked in history as a peaceful defiance against an unpopular but passed White Paper. Consider this a historic change of the people’s voice, the real people’s action. If I am cleared on that day, I want to attend and hear what others have to say – Karen Fu


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