Singaporeans gather at their speakers' corner in a protest against a paper passed in parliament last week that suggests continued immigration that would raise the total population to 6.9 million by 2030, a 30 percent increase, on Saturday Feb. 16, 2013 in Singapore. The paper was aimed at alleviating the falling birth rate and aging population has been met with much criticism as Singapore copes with a swell of immigrants that already tax current infrastructure and has caused much unhappiness among citizens.  (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

Worst off ... Singaporeans protest against a plan to increase its island population to 6.9 million by 2030 through immigration, claiming that it will affect quality of life. Photo: AP

SINGAPORE: Thousands of Singaporeans demonstrated on Saturday against a plan to increase the island's population through immigration, saying the policy would erode national identity and worsen quality of life.

The rally increases pressure on the government to slow an influx of immigrants that has been blamed for infrastructure strains, record housing and transport costs and competition for jobs.

Singapore's population has jumped by more than 1.1 million since mid-2004 to 5.3 million and may reach 6.9 million by 2030, based on the proposal.

The government will take in between 15,000 and 25,000 new citizens and grant about 30,000 permanent resident permits annually, according to the paper, A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore.

''We have 5.3 million people and we can hardly cope,'' said David Tan, the owner of a garment textile business who attended the protest.

In a city with 3.3 million citizens and 2 million foreigners, complaints about overseas workers taking jobs and driving up home prices helped opposition parties win record support in the 2011 general election.

The Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, is under pressure to placate voters without disrupting the entry of labour.