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The Population White Paper Debate // Our Projected 6.9 Million Population and Foreign Talent

As we all know, when The Population White Paper was announced a few weeks ago, everyone were basically..‘chua stunned’ by the projected 6.9 million people in Singapore in the future.

The Population White Paper: A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore (Jan 2013) has projected that Singapore could have a population of between 6.5 and 6.9 million by 2030.

Proposed Land Use Plan

This will require 76,600ha of land, an increase from the current supply of 71,000ha. To support this larger population, we need to (a) reclaim additional land; (b) develop some of our reserve land; (c) intensify new developments; and (d) recycle land with lower intensity uses such as old industrial areas and some golf courses to achieve higher land productivity.

Read the full blog post as seen HERE

As a result of The Population White Paper:

Parliament is set to debate the government’s White Paper on Population, which has drawn up roadmaps for Singapore to manage a projected population of 6.9 million by 2030.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean will ask the House, which will sit at 1.30pm on Monday, to endorse two papers — the “Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore” population policy roadmap to address Singapore’s demographic challenge, and the “A High Quality Living Environment for all Singaporeans” land use plan to support Singapore’s future population.

Credits: White Paper on Population to be debated in Parliament (Today Paper)

During the debate, Sylvia Lim in Parliament stood up to explain the party’s objection to the Population White Paper. Read the details below.

Ah, and I won’t be making any comments.


So read on!

AFP News – Pedestrians pictured in a downtown financial district of Singapore on January 29, 2013. Singapore has 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 tota

The Workers’ Party proposed Monday that Singapore prepare for 5.9 million instead of 6.9 million as detailed in the government’s recently-released population white paper.

The document sparked fury among Singaporeans online as in it the government projected that the city-state’s population by 2030 could be 6.9 million, of which nearly half would be foreigners.

After the paper was presented by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean to Parliament for endorsement Monday, WP chairman Sylvia Lim in Parliament stood up to explain the party’s objection to it, arguing that the proposed population policies outlined would further dilute Singapore’s national identity.

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

She noted that the 3.7 million Singaporeans expected to make up the population in 2030 would include new citizens, meaning home-grown citizens would make up less than half the total of people.
The core of Singapore’s population must be strongly Singaporean, cultivated over time through schools, national and community service, she stressed.

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.

Lim also advocated prioritising citizenship to those who marry Singaporeans as they will be the parents of the children who will make Singapore’s future.

As an alternative to government’s white paper, Lim offered this approach: work towards a more moderate GDP growth of 1.5 per cent to 2.5 percent, cut population injections and grow the resident workforce by 1 per cent yearly by tapping on seniors.

If the government continues to aim for GDP growth faster than that, the WP fears that “the welfare of Singaporeans will be at peril”.

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.

MPs weigh in on population issue

Other MPs also broached the population issue in Parliament, with some suggesting more creative ways of increasing the workforce without also inviting more foreigners.

MP Foo Mee Har

MP Foo Mee Har proposed “breakthrough ideas” which she hoped that the government would consider to reduce the need for excessive immigration. 

Citing statistics of almost 12,000 abortions conducted in Singapore each year, she suggested that the government should step up counseling services with the aim to get women to reconsider their decision to terminate pregnancy.

Foo also suggested that the government tap into older workers to supplement Singapore’s workforce – as well as women who stay at home. 

MP Seah Kian Peng

Marine Parade MP Seah Kian Peng spoke out strongly against the population projection. 

“Singapore is already so crowded. Foreigners will take some of our jobs. Do we really want to keep going?” he said.

Our future buses?

Seah also raised concerns that the country’s infrastructure, especially its transport system, may not be able to support an influx of foreigners, and recommended that the ratio of citizen versus foreigner remain as it is now, and not almost 1:1 as the White Paper projects.

“It’s not just more of us, is it? Not more of our own children, but more people, more strangers living in our midst.”

– Go for 5.9 million instead of 6.9 million: Workers’ Party (Yahoo News)
– WP opposes Population White Paper, says its chairman Sylvia Lim Article (Straits Times)

And then yesterday, 7 February, there was a follow up on The Population White Paper Debate. I heard abit of it as my mom was watching ChannelNewsAsia while I read the rest of it online.

Apparently, The Workers Party had also proposed to stop the intake of additional foreign manpower. And this was the reaction:

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, S Iswaran

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, S Iswaran says the Workers Party’s proposal to stop the intake of additional foreign manpower with immediate effect is drastic and inherently very risky.

Mr Iswaran said this will also send the completely wrong signal to the business and investor community, be it local or international.

It will damage Singapore’s reputation and severely impair efforts to …attract new and different businesses which can offer diverse job opportunities for Singaporeans.

It will also break faith with companies which have already invested here and are in the process of ramping up and adjusting to the new situation.

He said the government’s not fixated on growth as some have suggested. Neither does it take growth for granted.

What it’s after is quality growth so as to create the best possible opportunities for Singaporeans.

Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang had earlier accused the government of reading its road map upside down.

Rejecting this view, Mr Iswaran who’s also the second minister for Trade and Industry and Home Affairs, said the government is advocating a measured and balanced approach to transform the Singapore economy, to achieve a smooth landing.

Credits:The government says WP’s proposal to cap the foreign workforce at current levels, extreme and risky. (Xin MSN)

And if you read the above: Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang had earlier accused the government of reading its road map upside down, this was the article:

Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang

Madam Speaker, I listened to the debate with wonder in the last few days. At first, the PAP seemed content on debating the Workers’ Party’s proposal more than the white paper. Then, some PAP MPs began to echo Workers’ Party positions. I appreciate the honour that is bestowed on the Workers’ Party by this kind of attention.

Mdm, I must remind the House that what is called a roadmap on a white paper requesting this house to endorse will change Singapore drastically in less than 20 years time.

Driving with an Upside-Down Roadmap

The Workers’ Party thinks that this roadmap is wrong. The PAP government is driving with an upside-down roadmap. We are not trying to be funny when we change the title around to “A Dynamic Population for a Sustainable Singapore”. As a rational and responsible co-driver, it is our duty to tell the driver that he is reading the roadmap upside down. Madam speaker, allow me to distribute a table to show the differences between the Government’s proposal and the Workers’ Party’s proposal. 

Credits: A Sustainable Singapore with a Dynamic Singaporean majority – MP Low Thia Khiang

Taken from the WP website

Credits: Worker’s Party Website HERE

He said in parliament the White Paper still proposes incentives in the Marriage and Parenthood package to have more babies, when previous incentives had not worked.

Mr Low said: “Without a total fertility rate recovery plan with clear targets, our birth rates are not going to go up. So when 2030 arrives what solution are we going to turn to? Immigration again? Another White Paper to project a population size of 10 million for 2050 as a road map?

If we travel down this road map, Singaporeans will become a minority in their own country. The problem with the government is not that it lacks 20—20 foresight in infrastructure development, but it fails to recognise that the problem is its immigration policy in the first place.

Mr Low pointed out that the problems of low birth rate and ageing population lie in the social and physical environment, which he said is not conducive for family life.

He said: “Therefore the solution must be sought by focussing the promotion of the quality of life for Singapore families. By focusing on immigration, the government is using the cause of the problem today as a solution for tomorrow. What the government is doing is kicking the can down the road.”

Credits: MP Low Thia Khiang questions White Paper on Population (Xin MSN)

And just another key highlight:

Mr Wong Kan Seng speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013. 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. — PHOTO: TV SCREENGRAB.

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.

Without growth and coupled with an ageing population, it may come a day for Singapore where the shrinking workforce may not generate enough tax dollars, as it has already happened in Japan and possibly also in Europe.

“Singapore does not have unlimited past reserves to plug the gaps,” he said.

As for growing the workforce, Mr Wong noted that Singapore has tried encouraging people to have babies, and for women and seniors to continue working. As both measures take time, it is left with the last option of calibrating the pace of immigration.

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

Now having listened or read both parties debate on The Population White Paper, what are your views on it? Whose side do you support?

Feel free to leave a comment(:

Till later,
♥ mitsueki

Author: mitsueki

Hello! I'm mitsueki aka Daphne and I blog at mitsueki.sg! Follow me on IG for more updates too!

6 Comments on “The Population White Paper Debate // Our Projected 6.9 Million Population and Foreign Talent

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