By Terry Xu
Speaking at the parilament today, Mr Inderjit Singh, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC spoke out against the white paper on population. The first PAP MP who is speaking against the proposed white paper which would set a guideline for Singapore to increase its population to 6.5 – 6.9 million in 2030.
While he agreed with that there will be trade off for economic growth but he expressed that he would rather trade some of these economic growth for a more comfortable life for Singaporeans.
He asked for a pause in the pursue of economic growth, to resolve issues that have been created by the the problems created by the past policies of rapid economic and population growth. He concede that the government had failed to achieve the goal set by the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, to create a Swiss standard of living for most Singaporeans, except for the higher income Singaporeans which includes foreigners who just recently decided to make Singapore their home.
Mr Inderjit Singh disagreed with the number of PRs and new citizens that is planned to add to Singapore’s population. He says that Singapore has already added too many new citizens and PRs and need time for integration and social cohesion to happen.
“Adding another 500,000 to 800,000 more PRs and citizens as proposed by the white paper will be disastrous and add to our already difficult infrastructure and social problems.” said Mr Inderjit Singh, and added that if economic growth is what the government wants, Dubai’s model of a transient workforce would allow a lot more flexibility to manage numbers in the longer term.
He says that there are already too many PRs and they are enjoying full citizen privileges without citizen’s responsiblities such as National Service. He then urges the government to reduce the number of projected new PRs and citizens just to the population replacement levels and be more selective and differentiate their privileges from citizens.
Mr Inderjit Singh relates to the many young Singaporeans whom he talked to, especially those who have recently graduated and have just entered the workforce. He talks on on how they feel demoralized because many of the things that they grew up aspiring to have are now beyond their reach. Our aggressive growth strategies, which allowed cheaper foreign workers, including professionals to easily gain employment passes degraded or depressed wage levels of many Singaporeans, not just the lower income Singaporeans.
In an unexpected turn, Mr Inderjit Singh hits at the Mr Khaw’s banquet analogy which he gave earlier on,
“We are talking about lives of Singaporeans. Our banquet guests come for one night and leave when the function is over. There is no turning back when we grant PR and citizenships. We must be more exact about the numbers we want to add to the Singapore population and not plan on a basis of ‘hoping we hit some number”. Because if overdo things and end up with a population of more than 7m, it may be too late to stop the fast moving train of population growth when we fire up all the engines of growing the population. We missed the mark the last 10 years, and are already paying a high price for that mistake.”
After Mr Inderjit Singh shared his speech as a status update on his personal facebook page, it has since been shared by over 3,500 facebook netizens, receiving a large outpour of praise and commendation for the PAP MP who spoke out the thoughts of the normal citizens.
Readers may read the speech that Mr Inderjit Singh gave in parilament just today here.