Perhaps what the organizers need to do is to package it better and give earlier and wider publicity.
The ‘laissez faire’ format was ok at the beginning, at the first protest, when momentum and motivation is ‘self-generated’, but repeating the format thereafter with little fresh inputs has reaped diminishing returns.
The protests should not be merely occasions or platforms for some to let off some steam. It has to be better coordinated, purposive and focused to give people tangible reasons to want to attend. It has to meaningfully touch on aspects people can identify with, esp. from allied personal experiences. One way is to plan the protest with specific themes and topics in mind and using graphic examples so as to interest people enough to attend.
With a few exceptions, there had been very little attempt at FOCUSING DEEPER, ANALYZING DEEPER or EXTRAPOLATING with properly derived statistics and data on the impact of issues and implications that a cranked up population could result in.
Is the govt listening? Absolutely. But, without much transparency, it is nebulous what it is actually doing about it substantively, behind the facade of small changes and superficial cosmetic measures undertaken to give the appearance that it is ‘listening’. In a sense, govt is playing a poker game with Singaporeans, with the cards held very close to its chest. Come to think of it, hasn’t this been the modus operandi most of the time?
The organizers of PWPP should make the attempt at really pushing the envelope each time at HLP with bold statements of what their painstaking researches have revealed to pursue objectives.
My wish list of the topics or themes (not exhaustive) that the PWPP can consider to explore, if necessary, one at the time:
1. Projection of the annual population increases that would lead to a 6.9m (+ or -) by year 2030 by tracking annual population increases, starting from 2000, for example.
2. Projection of housing development, in particular, HDB, to cope with the annually expanding population. Are flats and estates being built fast enough to house people already in the queue and new applicants coming on board each month as well as for the influx of foreigners/new citizens, PR etc? Factor in the nitty gritty of timeliness and speed of land clearance, construction works for apartments, estates and supporting infrastructures, i.e. connecting road network, utilities supply, schools, hospitals, parks, markets, malls, etc.
3. Transportation and communication – review current status and project increase for an annually expanding population. How crowded would the MRT trains and buses be with the annual addition of five-figure population increase, for instance, to the already fault-prone train system? Track the frequency of breakdown and stoppages.
4. Medical support and infrastructure – review current status and project increased burden and quality issues imposed by an annually expanding population, in terms of number of hospitals, consultation queues, hospital beds availability, clinics, homes for the aged, hospice care, childcare and maternity facilities, etc.
5. The additional trained manpower that such a constant increase in population need – esp. doctors, specialists, nurses, teachers, policemen, bus drivers, etc
6. Other big-ticket infrastructural development to cope with the growing population such as water storage, gas supply, sewerage disposal, garbage disposal and supply and generation of electricity.
7. Economic implications of an annually expanding population on general supply and demand – what would happen to cost of living when demand exceeds supply of a whole basket of goods ranging from housing, to transport, to medical, to entertainment, to utility rates and to your plate of char kway teow?
8. The impact and effects of general overcrowding everywhere that people would converge and congregate – physical and psychological – in malls, markets, food outlets, parks, streets, road traffic, etc.
9. The impact of overcrowding on accessibility and mobility for an aging and wheel-chair bound population.
IMO, most of the data and expertise are available out there to be discovered, collated, checked, worked on, focused and presented to Singaporeans to heighten their attention and awareness of what is very likely to become true.
The mass protests we witnessed elsewhere whether it be in Hong Kong, Egypt or Malaysia, did not materialize randomly, they are the visible results of deliberate, tireless dedication and work behind the scene of supporters, volunteers and believers. We do not have to resort to spectacular turnout in such numbers, but IMO we should be more than able to publicly ‘audit’ the govt, on a continuing basis in this manner.