Saturday, 9 February 2013

"Worst-case Scenario" Of A 6.9 Million Population

Update 1 Dec 2013: 8m population by 2030?

Earlier this year, Singaporeans balked at the idea of having 6.9 million people on our tiny island. But some experts, including Dr Parag Khanna, Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, has said that Singapore can fit 8 million or more by 2030.

That is, if urban planning plays its part in spreading out the load.

"There is a much more physically devolved Singapore in which the towns play a much stronger role, in which there's much more local economic activity and vibrancy, in which everyone is not cramping down into Orchard or CBD every single day. And that Singapore can most certainly accommodate a couple million more people."

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Population White Paper 'never meant to predict future'

The backlash against the White Paper on Population was "unfortunate", said head of the civil service Peter Ong, and there are lessons to be learnt.

But he stands by his officers who worked hard on the plan and insists that it was never meant to predict the future. Rather, it was intended to look at all the factors that could affect Singapore in the future, and to engage the public in deep discussions about the trade-offs, he said.

But the public outcry against having a 6.9 million population figure in 2030 highlights two lessons for the Government.

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Voice of a young mother in Singapore: NO to 6.9 million people

"Just hope that our government will realize our desperate pleas before we descend into a state of national chaos. that wouldn't benefit anybody.

Sometimes I don't even bother keeping up with the parliament as I feel that our PAP speakers, especially the new ones, seem to not make sense when they speak. I understand that they're a bunch of elite scholars who have studied so high up, greatly educated. Yet what we need are leaders who listen to us, who understand where we are coming from."

Like the minister who said that it is possible to survive on a wage of $1000 a month and afford a HDB. If you want to prove a point, show it in action. Don't just talk only. Why wouldn't he give up his luxurious lifestyle and show us how he survives on $1000 for maybe a time frame of just half a year?

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Government responds to population paper by Workers' Party

The Singapore government has issued its response to the Population Policy Paper released by the opposition Workers' Party on February 23.

It said if a realistic adjustment is applied to the Workers' Party's projections, the population would in fact go up by more than 200,000 and go beyond six million in 2030.

The WP's paper had sketched out a projected population of about 5.8 million by that time.

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PAP’s population paper is an upside-down road map: Low Thia Khiang

Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang took scathing shots at the population white paper in Parliament on Thursday, describing it as an "upside-down road map with no destination".

“As a rational and responsible co-driver, it is our duty to tell the driver that he is reading the road map upside down,” said the opposition leader.

Speaking strongly against the "worst-case scenario" of a 6.9 million population put forward by the paper, Low said that the government was attempting to use immigration as a short-term, easy solution to it’s bigger problems of a low fertility rate and a growing ageing population

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While the report has some compelling arguments for the 6.9m population figure projected, we all know it is based mainly on economic considerations. Had we focused on things like building a cohesive nation with a strong national identity, the outcome would likely be very different.

I feel the time has come for us to find a better balance between economic growth and social cohesion and yes there will have to be tradeoffs of economic growth but I would rather trade some of these for a cohesive, united nation where people feel taken care of at home and are confident of their future. I am not saying we go for low or no growth. Instead I am willing to adjust my growth expectations for a more comfortable life for all Singaporeans. I am confident we will still be able to pursue respectable economic growth when companies and Singaporeans are faced with a situation of tightened labour availability by focusing on improving ourselves through productivity and higher value capabilities. Finland and other small nations have done, we can do it too. 

Our past decade of rapid population growth has already created too many problems which need to be solved first before we take the next step. I call on the government to take a breather for five years, solve all the problems created by the past policies of rapid economic and population growth. We can safely say that we have failed to achieve the goal set by the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, of a Swiss standard of living for most Singaporeans, except for the higher income Singaporeans including foreigners who just recently decided to make Singapore their home. So I call for a breather in this quest of growing the population and focus on improving the lives of Singaporeans and achieve that promised Swiss Standard of living for most Singaporeans first before we plan our next growth trajectory.

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White Paper is govt's plan to forestall impending crisis: ESM Goh

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said Wednesday that the hotly debated population white paper tabled by the government in Parliament is “its plan to forestall an impending crisis”.

Taking his turn at the chair during the lengthy debate that commenced Monday in Parliament, Goh, who served as the country’s second Prime Minister from 1990 to 2004, related the crises that Singapore experienced during his time in leadership — the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, SARS in 2003, and remotely, the 9/11 attacks in 2001, among others.

“I remember the anxiety and uncertainty of Singaporeans during these crises, and the tough decisions we had to take to overcome them,” he said. “In all of these crises, the critical success factors were the leadership of the country, the bond between the government and the people, our unity, our trust and support of each other... we instinctively came together to tackle issues head-on. We knew we would be worse off otherwise.”

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People first, not growth first: Khaw

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan says a major shift in planning and development strategy to invest ahead of demand will ensure Singapore remains a liveable city for future generations.

He said it will be a costly strategy but the government will do its best not to allow population to surge ahead of infrastructure again.

He was speaking in Parliament on Wednesday as debate continues on the Population White Paper and Land Use Plan.

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Go for the maximum resources can support: Mah Bow Tan on foreign labour

Former National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan spoke on Wednesday about the need for as much foreign labour as Singapore's resources will permit. (AFP file photo)

Former National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan has called for Singapore to continue bringing in more foreign labour in the coming years — as much as the country’s resources are able to sustain.

Speaking for the first time in Parliament this week as debate on the government’s population white paper neared the close of the third day, Mah said Singapore’s continued ability to attract foreigners will ensure its sustained competitiveness.

“Businesses will want more (foreign workers), some people will want less — the numbers can be calibrated,” he said.

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Wong Kan Seng: Growth needed to create jobs and care for elderly

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 infrastructure, Singapore has to start investing now, said Mr Wong, who was also previously in charge of population matters.

He said the Population White Paper is not about the PAP Government's 6.9 million population projection or the Workers' Party 5.9 million, but about keeping Singapore's economy going at a sustainable rate.

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Lim Swee Say calls for consensus on White Paper


Labour chief and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say said on Thursday that he hopes Parliament can come to a consensus on the White Paper on Population and work together to tackle Singapore's population challenges.

"Let us work together regardless of parties," he said, after identifying three points of agreement between the PAP Government and the opposition.

These points were: that having more babies is better than having more new citizens, that a smaller total population is better than a larger one, and that living conditions for Singaporeans must improve.

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Zaqy Mohamad asks about position of Malays in SAF

PAP MP Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) today asked for the Government's assurance that the status and role of Malay men in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would continue to improve as the population expands with newcomers.

He was the latest Malay MP of several this week to touch on how the Malay-Muslim community will be affected as the population heads towards a projected 6.9 million in 2030.

They have expressed concern during the Parliamentary debate on the Population White Paper that a disproportionately small number of immigrants are Muslim or from Malaysia and Indonesia.

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PAP MP Lim Wee Kiak apologises to Low Thia Khiang for a rude remark made during parliamentary debate
Hardwarezone Forum, 8 Feb 2013
SINGAPORE — The cut-and-thrust between the People’s Action Party and the Workers’ Party (WP) over the latter’s population proposals peaked yesterday, with Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Lim Wee Kiak making a personal remark against WP chief Low Thia Khiang, for which he subsequently apologised.

The incident was sparked by Dr Lim’s charge that the WP’s current position on the number of new citizens differed from what Mr Low said during last year’s Budget debate. When Mr Low countered that his remarks had been taken out of context, Dr Lim said: “I will quote (from your speech then) one more time. And maybe your hearing aid has to be (turned) up a little bit.”

Mr Low did not respond to the comment. Immediately after the next speaker, MP Ellen Lee (Sembawang GRC), ended her speech, Dr Lim rose and apologised. Full story
  1. MP Lim Wee Kiak apologises for his comments linking ministerial pay with dignity of politicians - Yahoo! News Singapore
  2. PAP MP  Lim Wee Kiak apologises to Workers’ Party chief -
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Lim Wee Kiat prefers suicide to euthanasia

“The feedback I received from my friends was that the alternative plans would kill the economy and this is euthanasia for Singapore. Between suicide for PAP versus euthanasia for the country… my choice is clear, I support the White Paper.” Said Lim Wee Kiat. 

This is the first time that a PAP MP spoke honestly about what he thought of the White Paper. He knew that it was political suicide. This is one thing that the people will deal to the PAP comes 2016. What is of greater concern is whether the White Paper would also lead the country into a suicidal path.

Many think so except the 77 and are speaking out to stop this self destruction down the road. The fact that the country has come to this juncture where the PAP admitted is a crisis of a life time and going along with the White Paper, a road of no return, speaks for the quality of the Govt to lead the country to a safe landing. Sinkies are now offered an option to jump from a frying pan into the deep blue sea.

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Lee Yi Shyan and Lee Bee Wah, that's no way to compare Japan to S'pore

The White Paper has seen the PAPpies sent into a frenzy panic. Woody Goh has turned cheerleader, jumping high and somersaulting, looking like a grandfather in a schoolgirl's outfit, "jiayou"ing PM Lee. Hri Kumar has gone into Attack Dog Mode, baring his teeth at WP. And now we have Lee Yi Shyan trying to act like rationale thinker comparing Japan to Singapore, but does it way out of context.

Ageing Japan offers lesson on consequences of keeping out immigrants: Yi Shyan

Yi Shyan picks out one factor, ie Japan's closing its doors to immigration as the cause of Japan's silver tsunami woes today. He misses the forest for the trees. That's no way to compare. That's short-sighted and micro thinking. The way to compare is to take a macro view.

Here's the macro view Yi Shyan totally missed. Singapore had (and still has) many more things common to Japan that has led us to this sad state. He shouldn't pick out on the closed door immigration policy.

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Lee Yi-Shyan and his misleading Yubari example

Speaking in Parliament on the Population White Paper yesterday (6 Feb), Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade & Industry Lee Yi-Shyan gave an example of a small town in Japan called Yubari.

He was trying to show that how the silver tsunami and dwindling workforce can destabilize an economy.

Lee Yi-Shyan said that Japan’s experience “serves as a useful reference point for us to anticipate our problems going forward” as Singapore’s rate of ageing today is similar to Japan’s in 1984.

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Low: Immigration can no longer be the solution

Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang on Thursday accused the PAP Government of kicking the can of economic restructuring down the road and using immigration as the easy way out.

He called on it to stop using this policy tool - which he said is the cause of problems today - as the solution for tomorrow.

Instead, he said he believes the WP's proposal of raising the labour force participation rate among Singaporean women and seniors, is more sustainable.

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Pitch Population White Paper differently: NMP Tan Su Shan

Singaporeans would probably have reacted with less angst if the Government had pitched the White Paper differently, Nominated MP Tan Su Shan said in Parliament on Thursday.

The policy document should have been geared towards the improvement and expansion of public infrastructure to fix current problems, before announcing the headline population projection of 6.9 million in 2030 that many have seized on.

The DBS managing director said the release of the white paper last month has "amplified the social and political divide amongst Singaporeans."

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Cap population at 6m: NMP Laurence Lien


Nominated MP Laurence Lien on Thursday urged the Government to cap the population at 6 million and accelerate economic restructuring, as he became the second NMP to oppose the White Paper on Population.

He called for a slower workforce growth rate of 1 per cent each year till 2020 and 0.5 per cent thereafter, and to take in fewer new citizens of about 10,000 to 15,000 than is projected in the population white paper.

Growth could be supported instead by better restructuring efforts to bring in higher-skilled firms and labour, to use the reserves to invest in strategic industries and to make use of Singaporeans' savings "to maintain economic vitality".

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Chiam See Tong weighs in on Population White Paper 

Opposition veteran and former Potong Pasir MP Chiam See Tong has weighed in on the population White Paper in an online video put up on Wednesday.

Like many other critics, he said he was “appalled” at the projections that Singapore’s population could hit 6.9 million by 2030.

The Singapore People’s Party chief said the “huge figure” surpasses the population of Scandinavian countries and will put tremendous pressure on Singapore’s infrastructure - especially housing - in the future.

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Clash of Narratives at Parliament House

Two differing worldviews surfaced today in Parliament, as Members of Parliament continued to debate the White Paper on Population—specifically, what happened if the opposing party’s policies came to pass.

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) painted a picture of a Singapore in the grip of economic turmoil. The Workers’ Party previously argued that Singapore’s foreign labour force should be kept constant. The PAP said this would force businesses to close down or leave Singapore. This would have knock-on effects, reducing jobs and income. There would also be fewer young people to support an ageing population. In the face of falling tax revenues, the government would be forced to increase tax rates, further burdening the people.

The Workers’ Party (WP) described a different scenario: a Singapore where local-born Singaporeans are crowded out by immigrants and permanent residents, where people are too busy chasing the almighty dollar for anything else. The PAP has consistently claimed that immigration is necessary to shore up Singapore’s population. The WP said this would lead to a Singapore where Singaporeans would be a minority. Further, the infrastructure development needed to accommodate this influx of foreigners would chip away at Singapore’s green and cultural spaces.

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Directions on Day 3

Two weeks ago, I was quizzed by undergraduates doing seminar series on biomedicine about the Government’s handling of the Sars crisis in 2003. Did its efforts go against the need to protect civil liberties? Did it go too far? I replied that civil liberties wasn’t much of an issue with Singaporeans who were facing the prospect of being wiped out by an infectious disease. Sure, there were quarantine orders and penalties for flouting them and plenty of rules and guidelines and tourist “suspects’’ being herded into government chalets, and I added: “You know, I don’t think we really cared.’’

I told the students that in such a crisis, the people expected leadership, strong leadership. We were grateful to be told what to do. That was my take anyway.

I was reminded of my experience of Sars when Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong raised it in Parliament as an occasion when the government and the governed acted as one. Now, we are told that we are facing yet another crisis – a population crisis that could explode our infrastructure and implode our economy. We are looking at the figures and dissecting every paragraph – but you know what? We can’t see the crisis because it isn’t here yet.

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The White Paper Eye-Popping Population

– Aussie Pete: ‘Instant’ Citizens?… I Think Not
– FOOD fuels me to talk…: Singapore’s new title: inflation nation?
– I’m getting personal…: There was a time…there was Singapore
– leesjuanpat world: Summary of Parliamentary debate on White Paper (5.1.2013)
– One degree north, 103 degrees east: “If there’s a war, why should we fight for Sg?”
– My Little Corner: Do you need that much data?
– My Singapore News: The wayang in Parliament
– Sgpolitics: Population crisis: Stopping our brain drain & addressing our fertility rate
– Singapore Notes: Dynamic Population For A Sustainable Singapore
– Think For Me, Singapore: More crap from that piece of toilet paper
– Yawning Bread: Population: Elemental considerations 2
– 否极泰来 Piji Tailai: The PAP Future is as good as the Population White Paper
– Anyhow Hantam: Population Influx: View From the Ground
– Bertha Harian: Detractors on Day 2
– BLUTA-log: 45% Foreigners – Perfect Property Storm For Our Banks and Nation
– Commonsense thinking: In Future Sporeans Everyone Living & Working In Spore?
– The Side Parting: The White Paper: Where are we going?
– Under The Angsana Tree: Parliament Debates White Paper On Population
– The Heart Truths: Discussion on Singapore Population White Paper 2013: Part 7
– Merlion News: Population White Paper Singapore: a REAL Sporean’s perspectives
– Singa Blogger Blogspot: Parliament Wayang Time
– Jentrified Citizen: Implications of the White Paper’s Target of 6.9 Million Population

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Population and Immigrants
Alternative 'Blue Paper' On SG Population
Voice Of The People @ Hong Lim Park
A Photo Documentary Of Hong Lim Protest
Large Turnout At Protest Against Population White Paper
The White Paper & The Singaporean Core
Afterthoughts Of The White Paper on Population
"Worst-case Scenario" Of A 6.9 Million Population
Parliament endorses Population White Paper
Planned Protest Against Population White Paper
Parliament Debates WP's Proposals
Parliament Debates Population White Paper
SG White Paper On Population
Our SG Population
Town Councils Graded On Corporate Governance
From Desmond Lawrence Sylvia to AHPETC
Social Media Takes On Town Council
Town Council Grants And Surplus Issues
From Adverse-Opinion, Ceiling-Cleaning to Unlicensed-Fair