By Philip Ang
I refer to CNA article “Gan Kim Yong in Japan to study ways to address needs of ageing population”. Health minister Gan Kim Yong is leading a delegation on a 4 day learning trip to study how Japan is addressing its healthcare and ageing needs.
It is shocking for me to learn that there are lessons from a country which the government has often cited to be behind the curve in addressing its ageing population issue.
In an Asiaone article dated 9 Feb, Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry, said that
“Japan’s present struggles illustrate the consequences of a silver tsunami and provide Singapore with a glimpse of future problems”.
In another Asiaone article dated 10 Feb, the same learned Senior Minister cited the Japanese city Yubari to serve “as cautionary tales of what Singapore could become” if the issue of ageing is not addressed.
Japan, a country with a land area 500 times of Singapore, makes for poor comparison. Tokyo, a city like Singapore, has seen its population growing almost every year since post World War 2. Lee Yi Shyan somehow conveniently overlooked Tokyo’s rising population.
Besides Tokyo, there is also the city of Sapporo whose population has been growing since 1869.
Lee Yi Shyan ‘anyhow’ selected an ‘ulu’ (secluded) former coal mining town about the size of Singapore but with a population of about 40,000 in the 80’s.
Mr Lee was followed by Er Dr Lee Bee Wah (unrelated,) PAP MP for Nee Soon GRC, who chimed in her two cents worth to warn “Singapore to avoid a similar fate”. She also said that Japan “is paying the price for closing its doors to immigration”.
It is unbecoming of our politicians to cherry pick and cast foreign countries in an extremely negative light to support untenable positions on proposed policies.
In yet another article dated 21 March, “Lee Kuan Yew speaks about Singapore’s changing demographics”, Senior Lee (also unrelated) used the Japanese example to warn of the most dire consequences. Ex MM Lee’s crystal ball predicts “a nation reduced to half in 20 years, and if it still continues with the same policy, reduced to a further half, and eventually, it is all over”!
Since the PAP government has been hitting Japan below the belt for its failure to arrest its ageing population issue, isn’t Minister Gan and his delegation’s visit to Japan, an insult to the Japanese people and a waste of taxpayers’ money?