Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Parliament Debates Population White Paper

Update - Parliament Debates WP's Proposals

DPM Teo pushes for support of population paper in Parliament

DPM Teo publicly endorsed the White Paper in Parliament on Monday
Yahoo! Newsroom/Screengrab - DPM Teo publicly endorsed the White Paper in Parliament on Monday

Amid widespread fury from Singaporeans after the release of the government's population white paper, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean stood up again Monday to publicly endorse it in Parliament.

Speaking to Members of the House on Monday, Teo said that he understood the concerns Singaporeans had over an increase in the migrant population and fears of "Singaporeans feeling like strangers" in their own country.

He went on to emphasise the importance of integration.

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DPM Teo's parliamentary speech on Population White Paper

Population White Paper debate kicks off with MP Seah Kian Peng urging review of biases


Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng on Monday called for a rethink of some assumptions behind the White Paper on Population, urging policymakers to be prepared to review it if necessary. --PHOTO: REUTERS

Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng on Monday called for a rethink of some assumptions behind the White Paper on Population, urging policymakers to be prepared to review it if necessary.

Mr Seah, who is also Deputy Speaker, said his deepest concern was the ratio of citizens to foreigners. Currently, this stands at less than two Singaporeans to one foreigner. In future, this may go to less than 1.5 to 1, according to the paper, he noted.

"I hope that the ratio can be maintained at current levels and not decline further by 2030. We do need to do more to have more citizens. Not just by getting new citizens in, but also by getting our people to get married, and getting married couples to have more children," he said.


MPs call for ways to avoid 6.9m—strong population

MPs call for ways to avoid 6.9m—strong population
Some 60 Members of Parliament (MPs) have indicated their interest to take part in the debate on the White Paper on Population.

There were several references to the much—talked—about population number, which the government is using to prepare infrastructure plans.

There were calls to find ways to avoid the need to grow Singapore’s population to 6.9 million people.

Suggestions included improving work—life balance and providing more incentives for Singaporeans to have children. 



Govt clarifies population projections


AFP News - Pedestrians walk down a street in downtown financial district in Singapore on January 29, 2013. Singapore's population may reach almost seven million by 2030, up from 5.31 million currently, with the number of citizens shrinking to barely half of the total, the government said

Cabinet ministers over the past week sought to clarify the projections made in a government-issued white paper on Singapore’s population, saying the 6.9 million figure expected by 2030 is not so much a target but more a projection.

Most recently, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office S Iswaran said on Sunday at a dialogue in Jurong Central that the 6.9 million figure forms the upper bound of a range between 6.5 and 6.9 million people, by the year 2030.

“6.9 million is there to give an idea of the upper end, the upper bound of the possible scenarios we can see looking ahead for 18 years,” he said, according to local media reports.

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WP opposes Population White Paper, says its chairman Sylvia Lim


This 2012 file photo shows Workers' Party's Sylvia Lim asking questions during an earlier parliament session.The Workers' Party opposes the Government's Population White Paper, said party chairman Sylvia Lim in Parliament today. --ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

It believes that the Government, in expanding the population to reach its economic growth targets, has gotten its priorities the wrong way around, she said.

Ms Lim laid out the WP's stance on the first day of the parliamentary debate, setting the agenda for her party's nine MPs. 

In a parting shot, Ms Lim charged that the Population White Paper's title - "A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore" - illustrated the Government's muddled priorities. Rather, it should be titled "A Dynamic Population for a Sustainable Singapore," she said.

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A DYNAMIC POPULATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE SINGAPORE: RECLAIMING BACK SINGAPORE – MP SYLVIA LIM 

What the government is proposing in this White Paper is to aim for its GDP targets and grow the population to achieve it. The Workers’ Party believes that the well-being of Singaporeans, our quality of life and our very identity will be put at peril under the government’s proposal. Is it worth it?

The government’s White Paper is entitled: “A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore”. While sustainability and dynamism are indeed important, we believe the government has gotten these priorities the wrong way round. Instead of having a sustainable population for a dynamic Singapore, we should have “A Dynamic Population for a Sustainable Singapore”.

For these reasons, the Workers’ Party does not endorse the White Paper on Population and will oppose the Motion.

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Go for 5.9 million instead of 6.9 million: Workers' Party

Compensating Singapore's low total fertility rate with new young citizens is a flawed policy, she asserted, as new citizens also view Singapore with a different lens, and should circumstances change, not find it difficult to leave the country.

Echoing the recommendation that other groups have made, Lim said the government should focus on improving the total fertility rate.

Government seemed resigned about not being able to raise the TFR though other countries like South Korea have dealt with it though structured institutional reform, she noted.

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WP’s Chen Show Mao takes fire in Parliament over 5.9 million projection

Hougang-Aljuined MP Chen Show Mao faced a volley of questions in Parliament on Tuesday over the Worker’s Party’s  ‘5.9 million instead of 6.9 million’ projection for Singapore’s population.

Entering into the current hot topic debate over the White Paper, Chen said that the Worker’s Party did not agree with the recommendations of the Paper.

“We believe that we should emphasise on growing the Singapore core. To use this policy which by its nature is a uni-directional policy tool - reversing this policy will require great effort and may erode human rights,” said Chen.

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Amy Khor says WP proposal on White Paper will hurt businesses

A day after the Workers’ Party attacked the White Paper on Population and offered its own alternative, Minister of State (Health and Manpower) Amy Khor said their proposal could hurt the very people it wants to help.

The WP’s idea to sharply cut workforce growth to 0.5 per cent a year from 3.3 per cent per annum over the past three decades would “exact punishing cost” on local businesses and some multi-national corporations, she said on Tuesday, in a sharply-worded response to WP chairman Sylvia Lim.

“Under this scenario, many companies are likely to fold or move out of Singapore whilst others will not be attracted to set up shop here resulting in fewer jobs for Singaporeans,” said Dr Khor.

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MP calls for constructive debate on White Paper

"Yes, we need growth and continued prosperity. But there are many 'buts'. But Singapore is already so crowded. But foreigners will take some of our jobs. But do we really want to keep growing? Singapore is crowded as it is. The current bottlenecks, especially transport, are already there.

"These are legitimate concerns that Singaporeans have raised and I share them too. So, before we go further, we need to resolve current strains on infrastructure, especially transportation. This is an imperative."

Mr Seah also said that there is a need to continually review and enhance the privileges of being a Singapore citizen.

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MPs' views on strong S'porean core

A different take on the Paper was presented by West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har, who endorsed it as a roadmap to steer Singapore away from the "dire consequences associated with a shrinking and ageing population".

At the same time, she addressed the need to ensure a strong Singaporean core and said that the Government should take "bolder steps" towards improving fertility rates by adopting an even more pro-family culture. She added that the country must develop its own talent pool, especially among economically inactive women and older people.

Eight MPs spoke on the topic, including Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng, who urged policymakers to be prepared to review and rethink the paper if necessary.

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First Round of Debate on White Paper on Population

Yesterday, Parliament sat to discuss the recently-released White Paper on Population. The Workers’ Party led much of the opposition to the White Paper, proposing an alternative to Singapore’s current immigration-for-economic-growth policy. The People’s Action Party defended the immigration policy, claiming it would help to solve national issues.

In defence of immigration - Mr Seah Kian Peng, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, urged a ‘neutral approach’ to the debate, beseeching both sides of the House to improve current policy instead of simply making speeches they could claim credit for.

Mr Seah argued that the White Paper allows planning to build infrastructure ahead of demand. As it stands, he said, NTUC Fairprice had problems opening supermarkets close to neighbourhoods as it was difficult to find workers. Although NTUC Fairprice was allowed a foreign worker quota of 45% of its employees, 80% of its workers are Singaporean, with the remainder evenly split between Permanent Residents and foreigners.

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Deciphering Day 1

OKAY, I am asking this question again. What happens after five days of Parliamentary debate on the White Paper? Doubtless, the paper will be endorsed given the People’s Action Party’s majority in Parliament. And then what? Will it be revised in any way to take into account comments and views made by the PAP MPs and Opposition MPs? Will we see the revised version? Or is this a done deal?

I agree with an MP who talked about the haste with which this White Paper seemed to be proceeding. ST commentator Chua Mui Hoong said the PAP was doing business-as-usual and tried to make the point that this debate was NOT usual. She stopped short though of saying anything more beyond giving reasons for the difference between this debate and others.

So we have DPM Teo Chee Hean sketching out the plan, arguing that the G was not pro-foreigner but intent on keeping the Singapore “core’’. I don’t think his points in Parliament went very much beyond what the White Paper said. I guess he’s saving some bullets when he has to round up the debate. Oh my, the dozens of civil servants who must be taking notes

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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT


PLEASE VOICE MY OBJECTION TO POPULATION WHITE PAPER: A SUSTAINABLE POPULATION FOR A DYNAMIC SINGAPORE, RELEASED IN JANUARY 2013

Dear MPs Yaacob Ibrahim, Lui Tuck Yew, Denise Phua and Edwin Tong. My name is Xxx Xxxx Xxx. I am a resident of Moulmein Kallang GRC. I am aware that the parliament will have a session to discuss the Population White Paper: A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore, released on January 2013. 

I write to request that you, as my representative to the parliament, to voice my objection to the plans proposed in the said paper. 

My request is based on my disagreement with the plans set out in the paper as a Singaporean. The sentiment is personal and not politically driven. The implementation of the plans will adversely affect my daily life and the lives of my children.

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Population 2030



THERE were pages of numbers, charts and detailed explanations but only one question seemed to matter to many: Must it be 6.9 million?

Many are troubled by the eye-popping figure. It means Singapore is set to add up to 1.6 million people over the next 17 years, raising the density - the number of people per sq km - from about 11,000 to 13,000.

That is according to the Ministry of National Development's calculation of net density, which is the number of people per sq km of developable land. Based on that, even with 6.9 million people, Singapore will have a far lower density than Hong Kong or Seoul.

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Singapore defends population forecast

In a parliamentary debate, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Monday that the population report was "fundamentally for the benefit of all Singaporeans -- ourselves, our children and their children".

Stressing that the 6.9 million upper end of the forecast was not a target, he said the numbers were laid out "only to prepare infrastructure plans" for the long term.

Mr Teo reiterated that Singapore needs immigrants to alleviate the shortage of babies and a rapidly ageing population. "To prevent our Singaporean core from shrinking and ageing rapidly, we will need to augment our population with new citizens and permanent residents." 

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Singapore’s impending integration challenges — Terence Chong

The Singapore government’s much awaited Population White Paper was finally released on January 29. Within it, two primary challenges are recognised which, like pincers, are closing in at an alarming rate.

On the one hand, the country’s population is ageing rapidly, while on the other, its total fertility rate (TFR) of 1.2 is one of the lowest in the world. This shrinking and simultaneously ageing tendency of the population not only heralds slower economic growth for the near future but also draws attention to some key concerns, such as the impending inability to meet the nation’s military and security needs.

In order to address this future scenario, the White Paper has projected the population trajectory to hit 5.8 million to 6 million by 2020, and between 6.5 million and 6.9 million by 2030

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White Paper on population in Parliament

The MPs have probably one week to read the White Paper before debating in Parliament. I am sure many are very well prepared to debate this Paper by looking at the report that said 42 MPs will be talking on this issue.

One question that comes to mind is the position of the MPs. Will they be speaking for or against the 6.9m population? And the follow up question, how did they come to their final position? Did they talk to their constituents to seek their views on this crucial issue? How many of the constituents did they speak to in less than one week?

Or maybe they know what their constituents want and simply walk into Parliament to speak on their behalves. Or maybe there is no need to talk to their constituents as they have given them the full mandate as their representatives to say what, being the talented knows all MPs, they think is good for the constituents? 

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Full coverage
 

WP opposes Population White Paper, says its chairman Sylvia Lim

Straits Times - ‎1 hour ago‎
This 2012 file photo shows Workers' Party's Sylvia Lim asking questions during an earlier parliament session.The Workers' Party opposes the Government's Population White Paper, said party chairman Sylvia Lim in Parliament today. --ST PHOTO: SEAH ...

DPM Teo pushes for support of population paper in Parliament

Yahoo! Singapore News - ‎31 minutes ago‎
Amid widespread fury from Singaporeans after the release of the government's population white paper, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean stood up again Monday to publicly endorse it in Parliament. Speaking to Members of the House on Monday, Teo ...

Singapore defends population forecast

Bangkok Post - ‎9 hours ago‎
Singapore on Monday defended its population policies after an outcry over a forecast that it could have 30 percent more people in less than 20 years, with foreigners forming almost half the total. Pedestrians pictured in a downtown financial district of ...

MPs call for ways to avoid 6.9m-strong population

Channel News Asia - ‎10 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE: Some 60 Members of Parliament (MPs) have indicated their interest to take part in the debate on the White Paper on Population. There were several references to the much-talked-about population number, which the government is using to ...

2% of enforcement officers are foreigners

AsiaOne - ‎11 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE: Out of about 20,000 enforcement officers deployed by various public sector agencies, including areas outsourced to the private sector, 2 per cent are foreigners. These officers are largely deployed to deter littering and illegal parking, wrote ...

MP calls for constructive debate on White Paper

Channel News Asia - ‎11 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE: Nearly 60 Members of Parliament have given notice to take part in the week-long debate on the White Paper on Population. Kicking off the debate on Monday - after Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean's wide-ranging speech - was Seah Kian ...

Singapore: expats set to drive population growth

Telegraph.co.uk - ‎12 hours ago‎
Singapore's population could rise by up to 30 per cent by 2030, with foreigners making up the bulk of the increase. The city-state already has a high percentage of foreign workers, who currently make up 38 per cent of the total population, which has caused ...

Sustainable population the most important part of paper

AsiaOne - ‎13 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE - An ageing and shrinking population could mean higher taxes on those working to fund subsidised healthcare for a large number of seniors, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Monday. RELATED STORIES. White Paper marks ...

White Paper marks slowdown in population growth: DPM Teo

AsiaOne - ‎13 hours ago‎
The Population White Paper proposes a significant slowdown in population and workforce growth, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Monday as he launched the debate in Parliament on the proposed policy that has sparked debate since its ...

Most foreigners in future will be here on work permits

AsiaOne - ‎13 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE - Most non-resident foreigners in future will be on work permits and do jobs and provide services that Singaporeans need but do not want to do themselves, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament on Monday. RELATED ...

Population White Paper for benefit of all Singaporeans: DPM Teo

Channel News Asia - ‎12 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has presented in Parliament the White Paper on Population, a roadmap to address Singapore's demographic challenges. The Land Use Plan was presented along with the White Paper. The White Paper ...

6.9m figure is reference for long-term planning, says Iswaran

AsiaOne - ‎21 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE will continue to need foreigners in certain sectors, like health care and community services, as the population ages, even while it tightens its immigration policy, said Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran yesterday. At a grassroots event in ...

6.9 million population is a projection: S Iswaran

Channel News Asia - ‎Feb 3, 2013‎
SINGAPORE: Minister in the Prime Minister's Office S Iswaran assures Singaporeans that the 6.9 million population figure in the White Paper is not a target the government is setting itself to achieve. He said it is the upper bound of a range of 6.5 to 6.9 million ...

Look again at babies policy

Yahoo! Singapore News (blog) - ‎14 hours ago‎
Singapore's projected population increase to 6.9 million laid out by the white paper received a push-back and criticisms by the people. (Yahoo! photo). COMMENT While the debate rages on over the controversial figure of 6.9 million population by 2030, ...

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Continued from: SG White Paper On Population