200 turn up for Hong Lim Park rally

About 200 people turned up at Hong Lim Park yesterday for a rally on whether Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is the right person to lead Singapore.

It was co-organised by Mr Osman Sulaiman, 39, a human resource officer with the opposition National Solidarity Party, and Mr William Lim, 37, a taxi driver.

"This is not a protest, it's more like a symposium to discuss issues," said Mr Osman, who said he had organised the event in his personal capacity.

In all, eight speakers, including former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian and 17-year-old blogger Ariffin Sha, aired their views on a range of topics, including national service, job opportunities and ministerial salaries.

Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who was initially slated to speak, pulled out of the event last Friday.

One speaker, Mr Mohammed Bashir, 43, could not finish his speech as the crowd heckled him when he said that there was no viable opposition.

"I'm not surprised that the crowd reacted that way," said the business owner who was invited to speak by Mr Osman, a close friend. "But I don't see anyone better... now to lead the country."

He added that government policies in areas such as education, health care and defence are "working" and he had benefited from them.

Mr Osman said that he had expected a crowd of about 350, based on the number of confirmed attendees on the event's Facebook page.

The lower turnout could have been because the event was not publicised widely, he added.

Amelia Teng

Linette Lai