Friday, 8 February 2013

Planned Protest Against Population White Paper

Protest, voter anger put political risk in Singapore's future - John O'Callaghan

SINGAPORE, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Gilbert Goh is an unlikely radical.

But as anger swells over living costs and immigration in Singapore, one of Asia's richest and most expensive countries, the bespectacled 51-year-old unemployment counsellor is moving beyond the fringe of political activism to the centre of a rancorous debate over the nation's future.

In a country where nearly all media are state-linked and open dissent can easily fall foul of the long-ruling government, Goh's call for a public protest on Saturday is striking a nerve. 
It is also raising the once-absurd prospect of political risk in one of the world's biggest financial and trading centres that has been built on a reputation of stability. Full story

  1. Protest, voter anger put political risk in Singapore's future -
  2. Protest, voter anger put political risk in Singapore's future -
  3. Protest, voter anger put political risk in Singapore's future - Yahoo! News

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Reuters, 6 Feb 2013
Singapore is to hold a rare anti-government demonstration against plans for a dramatic increase in immigration that would boost the island's population by as much as 30 percent by 2030.

Discontent is growing in affluent Singapore over a rising number of foreigners blamed for strains on infrastructure, ballooning housing costs and transportation headaches in a country slightly smaller than New York City.

Protest organizer Gilbert Goh said he hoped to attract 1,000 people to the February 16 event at Speakers' Corner, a designated park exempt from strict government controls over assemblies, speeches and outdoor protests.

"Let us send a strong signal to our government that we don't want 6.9 million people living here by 2030," Goh said. Full story 

Singapore plans rare protest as population debate rages - Yahoo! News
Singapore plans rare protest as population debate rages - Malaysia Star
Singaporeans Plan Protest as Parliament Debates Population Boost - Bloomberg
Singaporeans plans rare protest as population debate rages

More than 3000 people will be going to support protest at Hong Lim Park on 16th Feb

“We want to show the government that there is a consolidated voice against its population growth policy. We want them to hear us… We can’t take this lying down!”
12 speakers have confirmed to speak after going through twenty over people who wanted to speak on that day. They include politicians as well as ordinary Singaporeans, who simply want their voices to be heard:

  • Mr Lee Kah Jing – acturist
  • Mr Cradius Tan – medical technolist
  • Ms Samantha Chia – event co-ordinator
  • Mr Nizam Ismail – lawyer
  • Ms Sem Teo – banking executive
  • Mr Kumaran Pillay – businessman
  • Mr Leong Sze Hian – financial service professional
  • Mr Tan Kin Lian – ex-Presidential candidate in 2011 PE
  • Mr Tan Jee Say – ex-Presidential candidate in 2011 PE
  • Mr Vincent Wijey – SDP politician
  • Mr Ravi Philemon – NSP politician
  • Ms Jeannette Chong – NSP politician
Each will speak for 10 mins.

Mr Goh said that the politicians will be speaking in their own personal capacity as a Singaporean rather than a politician so as not to make the event look like a political rally. He said, “Hopefully, the event can unite Singaporeans together as one powerful voice in peaceful protest against the population white paper.”

Ms Oniatta Effendi, a Suria Malay artiste, will also be singing on that day and, according to Mr Goh, the event promises to be “an occasion whereby nationalistic emotions will be stirred as we try to encourage frustrated Singaporeans to fall in love with their country again”.

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Hold National Referendum on White Paper – Our letters to President and PM

This morning, the National Solidarity Party wrote separate letters to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan. 

The letters called attention to the fact that there is significant opposition to the Government’s White Paper on Population which was adopted by Parliament yesterday.

The NSP has also urged PM Lee and President Tan to call for a national referendum on the issue to avoid breaking faith with the people

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Nicole Seah: Why I oppose the White Paper

The PAP has presented a White Paper that looks too perfect to be true, said Nicole Seah. (AFP file photo)

Along with many other Singaporeans, I oppose the White Paper.

I oppose the White Paper as a young Singaporean, who has no intention of giving up my citizenship or moving on to greener pastures because I want to stay and fix what is wrong with our country, so that we can be proud to pass on a better, more sustainable Singapore to future generations.

A Singapore that people can feel secure enough to call home, and feel confident to raise their children in.

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Concerns about 6.9 million population protest

I am unsure about this event. As much as I feel the frustration of the issues at hand, some of my friends, foreigners who have been contributing to Singapore for a long time both personally and economically, have been viciously targeted as a result of this “no to 6.9 million” idea.

I understand completely that this is not an event against foreigners but against the ideas presented in the white paper, but how can we all ensure that this will not lead to more xenophobia?

I would like to attend but based on what I’ve seen online, I am concerned about what may happen at the event – not from the organisers, but from the people behind very hateful and hurtful words that have been thrown at me (as a Singaporean who stands up for foreign friends) and my friends who are foreigners/PRs.

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Singapore Population to Be Below 6.9 Million in 2030: PM Lee. Do You Believe Him?

Bloomberg, 9 Feb 2013
Singapore, which is boosting infrastructure to accommodate a population of 6.9 million by 2030, said the number of people in the city state will be “significantly” lower than what it is planning for.

The government won’t decide on a population trajectory beyond 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament yesterday as lawmakers from his ruling party endorsed a white paper that outlined proposals including allowing more foreigners into the country to boost the workforce.

Opposition members rejected the motion, saying immigration as a policy to spur economic growth is not sustainable. Full story

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Parliament endorses White Paper on Population

Thus far, every PAP MP had expressed support for the paper in varying degrees. One PAP voice stood out, roundly criticising the White Paper. That member was MP for Marine Parade Ms Tin Pei Ling.

She argued that improving TFR would require improving the affordability and reducing the financial uncertainty of having children.

Concluding her speech, Ms Tin said, “I support the motion in the name of the honourable Mr Liang Eng Hwa. Otherwise, I would have great difficulty supporting the motion.” 

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WP votes for a Sustainable Singapore

For the last one week, Parliament debated the motion to endorse the Government’s White Paper on Population entitled “A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore”.

The Workers’ Party MPs voted against the Amended Motion in Parliament today.  Although the Amended Motion captures some of the Workers’ Party’s concerns about the White Paper, fundamentally the White Paper still forms the basis of the roadmap forward to 2030, which the House was asked to endorse.

The Workers’ Party believes that the path proposed by the White Paper will further dilute the Singaporean core and weaken our national identity.  It will also lead us to require unsustainable population injections in the future.  We believe that the greater well-being of Singaporeans lies in sustainable economic growth driven by increases in our productivity and in our resident workforce, rather than further increases in our dependency on imported foreign labour.

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The population white paper: It need not be this way

The PAP does not deserve the continued support of Singapore citizens because the situation we are facing today is the culmination of decades of poor planning and short-sightedness on the part of the PAP.

Larger countries with more land mass can deal with a declining population core by importing foreigners, encouraging people to take up permanent residency, with the eventual goal of becoming citizens.

In Singapore’s case, our small land area greatly complicates the issue. Because we are so small, the danger is that we will reach the limit of our carrying capacity much sooner than other countries embarking on similar policies.

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The great John Maynard Keynes famously said that "practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist."

The debate on the Population White Paper has surfaced a number of myths and fallacies that seem to dominate the current discussion on Singapore's population policies. Economics provides us with a very useful set of analytical tools to clarify our thinking and to develop sensible, evidence-based policies. The purpose of this essay is to examine some of the ways these myths have inadvertently, or even subconsciously, been used to justify inaccurate thinking about policies.

Myth #1: If we don't have sufficiently large injections of foreign labour, business costs will rise, some businesses will shut down or move out of Singapore, and Singaporean workers will be laid off.

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It Comes Down To This

It boils down to this, after incorporating Holland-Bukit Timah Member of Parliament Liang Eng Hwa's proposal to replace the word "policy" with "roadmap", the final vote on the controversial Population White Paper was:

77 approved (all PAP members of parliament);
13 said no, including all 9 Workers' Party Parliamentarians, 1 Non-Constituency MP (Lina Chiam) and 3 Nominated MPs (Laurence Lien, Faizah Jamal, and Janice Koh);
1 abstained (Nominated MP Eugene Tan);
8 were absent, one ostensibly being Lee Kuan Yew.

Assuming the rest of the 5 NMPs absented themselves (Tan Su Shan, Dhinakaran, Mary Liew, Teo Siong Seng, Nicholas Fang), 2 PAP MPs are unaccounted for. Maybe they are planning ahead to join George Yeo in Hong Kong. Inderjit Singh must be glad his wayang role in the good cop/bad cop episode is over, and he can safely vote according to party instructions, and not what's truly in his heart of hearts. Or did he? Singh will only admit, "All I want to say is I was not present for the vote." The exercise clearly demonstrates why the number of alternate party voices in parliament must increase.

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I am very concerned about the 6.9 million projections presented in the white paper

Are we doing it sustainably or is this just a mere political exercise. For any given land space there is a natural limit to expand. We need to work out this natural norm. Is this going to be 6.9million? What happens after 2030? Will there be another white paper to present another population projections 2050…etc.

We consume resources for only the current generation based on equitable norms and not to steal from future generation, by consuming more than the fair share of current generation needs. In other words, consume what you need now and not excessively so that future generations has enough. Consider carbon footprints of such resources

This is important , because we cannot continue to have the same patch work approach that leads to sub optimal incongruent solution that lead to the current malaise that Singapore has to grapple now. There are many more points but suffice to say I will support the rate to be at 5.9 million. I do this for my children, grand children and great grand children to come.

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And “Parliament Passes Motion …”

Before my comment, I found this picture on a walled garden site and thought I should share it here:

How appropriate the headline is and the accompanying photo. I can’t find where this appeared and would appreciate all help to find it – I want to give credit where it is due.

It is not surprising at all that the parliament rubber-stamped the Population White Paper.

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Hard-selling the Population White Paper!

Given its more than 90% parliamentary control, the PAP knew it had no problem bull-dozing the Population White Paper through.

However, it probably did not expect such degree of strong heat from the ground. Men in the street were angry, women were unhappy, students were talking about it and the cyber-world was fuming!

A friend even told me that when her husband saw a minister walking towards his direction the other day, her husband waited for the minister to walk to within a close distance from him, then turned his head, pretending to look at another direction

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The aftermath of 5 days, and still taking wrong steps 

A week after the Parliamentary White Paper on population was released, Parliament has voted to endorse it. The results are decisive and indicate that an overwhelming number of MPs have voted in favour of it. 77 for, 13 against and 1 abstention.

As a layman observing the furore, I find the results startling. All the PAP MPs voted for the White Paper while all the elected opposition MPs and “pseudo opposition MPs” (NNPs) voted against (barring one abstention). However, from the debates, it is clear that the various PAP MPs hold divergent views, some vigorously opposing the White Paper. It is therefore surprising that more MPs, particularly those from the PAP camp, did not abstain.

We’ll never know for sure why the MPs voted the way they did and perhaps it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, the voting procedure was above board and the MPs exercised their votes.

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77 MPs voted in favour of the White Paper

The very unpopular White Paper on future population in the island was passed yesterday with 77 for, 11 nay and 1 abstained. At least two PAP MPs were not present, LKY and Inderjit Singh. PAP has 80 MPs in Parliament. 79 PAP MPs were counted, 77 +2. Who is missing? All opposition MPs and NMPs voted against except for the diplomatic Eugene Tan who chose to abstain.

The house is divided with PAP against the others on this population issue.

It is clear that the only way for a PAP MP not to vote along party line is to be absent with valid excuses, like LKY and Inderjit. Those who are present in Parliament would have to vote accordingly no matter if they agree or disagree with the motion or even spoke against it. Is this enough to confirm that no PAP MP can be an independent MP, to vote according to his belief and conscience, or be his own man or woman, to take a stand against the party position?

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Singaporeans 1 PAP 1

With the 6.9 millions white paper endorsed by Parliament yesterday, I have only one sentence to say - Singaporeans, you guys are 'screwed'!

Enjoy your sardine-packed and claustrophobic lifestyle with human bodies everywhere. I literally mean everywhere.

Imagine the social and health implications, imagine the challenges your next and next-next generations face, imagine the housing and transport woes, imagine the job opportunities given to 'outsiders'... to 6,900,000 humans on this tiny island, of which close to half of them are non-core or native-born.

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Singapore's Land Use Plan 2030: Building a target rich environment

Although the 6.9 million target planning parameter for Singapore's population in the year 2030 now looks iffy, items mapped out under the Singapore Government's Land Use Plan appear more definitive.

As Singapore redevelops to meet population changes, land use planners should guard against urbanising mainland Singapore to the extent that the island becomes no longer defensible.

The Singapore we could see in 2030 comes pretty close to depriving the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) of the space it needs to mobilise, deploy and manoeuvre for action.

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Very Unpopular Paper

Recently I had posted on the Singapore government announcing that they intend to continue the policy of open immigration, boosting the population of Singapore to 6.9 million by 2030. I also mentioned the backlash from the Singapore public.

Since then, the Singapore government had tried (unsuccessfully) to put the fire out but backtracking a little. Senior government ministers had tried to change the argument by saying that the population target of 6.9 million is not a target at all but a “worst-case scenario” or a “just in case scenario”. Others have said that it’s not a policy but a “roadmap” for the future of Singapore.

One thing is clear amidst all the confusion and backtracking; the policy/roadmap/worst-case scenario white paper is so controversial that even PAP backbenchers are loath to endorse it! However, being government backbenchers, they have to vote for the policy when push comes to shove.

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Population increases of 900K - 1 million per decade is not acceptable

To increase the population size every decade by 900,000 to 1 million people mainly through immigration, and the correspondingly decreasing percentage of citizen population is unacceptable. Precedence suggests that population increase and inflow of immigrants and foreign workers grossly exceeds such projections. Such increases could mean that Singapore will have a population of over 8.5 million population in the year 2050.

Halfway through the Parliamentary debate, a PAP member perhaps sensing the outrage of the general population suggested that the original motion be amended. Today the PAP Government paased the amended motion which reads:

That this House endorses Paper Cmd. 1 of 2013 on "A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore" as the roadmap to address Singapore's demographic challenge, and Paper Misc. 1 of 2013 on "A High Quality Living Environment for all Singaporeans" as the land use plan to support Singapore's future population projections; and supports maintaining a strong Singaporean core by encouraging more Singaporeans to get married and have children, supplemented by a calibrated pace of immigration to prevent the citizen population from shrinking; and recognises that the population projections beyond 2020 are for the purpose of land use and infrastructure planning, and not a population target; and calls on the Government

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White Paper and the Idiotic Public and PAP

And just as it quickly began, shallow White Paper dropped in front of our faces, the debate is over in parliament. OK feedback was sought last year but only 2,500 was collected.  As the PAP did not lift its party whip, the results were more or less expected. The PAP leering at one end, the WP and NMPs huddled back to back at the other.

One lone NMP abstained, the coolest one as he signaled that the White Paper has both its merits and shits and would not commit. Or the dumbest as he with one cast of no-vote, he won enemies on both sides. The lesson from that, get WP in with at least a third of the seats and then we can see bills being negotiated before they can be passed in parliament.

Not like now lock stock and barrel White Paper passed as policy.

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Full coverage
Businessweek - ‎3 hours ago‎
Singapore, which is boosting infrastructure to accommodate a population of 6.9 million by 2030, said the number of people in the city state will be “significantly” lower than what it is planning for. The government won't decide on a population trajectory beyond ...
Channel News Asia - ‎7 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE - Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Friday issued a corrigendum to the Population White Paper in Parliament to delete a segment of a footnote that classified nursing as a low-skilled job. Mr Teo said, in the Notice of Corrigendum, that he ...
AsiaOne - ‎10 hours ago‎
The population white paper was endorsed with an amendment on Friday, with 77 Members of Parliament giving their approval. RELATED STORIES. Special: Population 2030 · PM Lee: Govt will not let Singaporeans be overwhelmed · Population size in 2030 ...
AsiaOne - ‎11 hours ago‎
The population size in 2030 and beyond is for a future government and generation of Singaporeans to decide, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday during the parliamentary debate on the Population White Paper. RELATED STORIES ...
AsiaOne - ‎11 hours ago‎
The Government wants the best for Singaporeans and is hence not passing the responsibility of planning for population matters on to future leaders, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament on Friday. RELATED STORIES. Special: Population 2030 ...
AsiaOne - ‎11 hours ago‎
Three groups of people are of greatest concern to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as he looks at the long-term population problems identified in the White Paper, and considers the level of immigration and inflow of foreign workers. RELATED STORIES ...
AsiaOne - ‎9 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE - Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean, gave the closing speech at the parliamentary debate on the Population White Paper Friday. RELATED STORIES ...
AsiaOne - ‎9 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party has release a press statement on the parliament debate on the White Paper on Population. RELATED STORIES. Special: Population 2030 · Parliament endorses Population White Paper 77 to 13 · DPM's closing speech at ...
Wall Street Journal (blog) - ‎9 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE—In 17 years' time, this tiny but bustling Southeast Asian city-state could see its population swell by nearly a third to 6.9 million people. But should it? And how would the island nation deal with it? People sit along the promenade during lunch ...
Channel News Asia - ‎10 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE: After five days of intense debate, Parliament on Friday passed the amended motion to endorse the White Paper on Population with 77 ayes and 13 nays. Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Eugene Tan abstained from the vote. Workers' ...
Channel News Asia - ‎10 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has said the conversation on Singapore's future continues even after the debate in Parliament on the Population White Paper is over. Calling for support as he wraps up the debate on the White Paper on ...
AsiaOne - ‎11 hours ago‎
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday promised that the Government will not let Singaporeans be "overwhelmed by a sheer flood" of foreigners. RELATED STORIES. Special: Population 2030 · PM Lee: Govt will not let Singaporeans be overwhelmed ...
AsiaOne - ‎11 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE - The ratio of Malays in Singapore will not change in the future even as the population grows, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament on Friday. RELATED STORIES. Special: Population 2030 · Low: Immigration can no longer be the ...
Channel News Asia - ‎11 hours ago‎
SINGAPORE: The Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Chan Chun Sing, said the Population White Paper is about values and families and how Singaporeans relate to each other and the rest of the world. He said how Singaporeans respond to ...
Business Times (subscription) - ‎Feb 7, 2013‎
[SINGAPORE] After four days of intense debate, multiple speeches by ministers and backbenchers and a frank airing of diverse views, a surprising consensus has emerged on several key points surrounding the direction that Ship Singapore is headed in.
Growth cannot be taken for granted: Wong Kan Seng
AsiaOne - ‎Feb 7, 2013‎
SINGAPORE - Former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng on Thursday called on Singaporeans not to take economic growth for granted, saying it was needed to create jobs and care for the elderly. And to avoid a repeat of the past of under-investing in ...
Yahoo! Singapore News - ‎10 hours ago‎
Yahoo! Newsroom/TV screengrab - PM Lee makes an impassioned plea in Parliament to push forward the amended motion. [Correcting the identity of the MP who abstained from Chen Show Mao to NMP Eugene Tan] After a week-long heated debate, ...
Expatriate Healthcare - ‎21 hours ago‎
The Singaporean government has said foreign migrants could make up for nearly half of the entire population in Singapore by 2030. A white paper, released by the government, said the total population of the country could range between 6.5 and 6.9 million ... News - ‎Feb 7, 2013‎
Inderjit Singh, who is Member of Parliament (MP) for Ang Mo Kio, in reposting his speech made in Parliament on Tuesday, has seen more than 5,500 shares on Facebook by far. It would appear that his speech struck a chord with those reading it. He was ...

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"Worst-case Scenario" Of A 6.9 Million Population
Inaugural Labour Day Protest Against 6.9m Population
Large Turnout At Protest Against Population White Paper
Afterthoughts Of The White Paper on Population
Parliament endorses Population White Paper