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HDB Chief Cheong Koon Hean

HDB Chief says SG population density will hit 13,700 people per sq km by 2030 – 10M population?

ST Forum published a letter from an astute reader Cheang Peng Wah today (20 Apr) expressing his alarm at what HDB Chief Cheong Koon Hean said during a public lecture organized by the Institute of Policy Studies last week.

On Tue (10 Apr), at a lecture entitled "Anticipating Our Urban Future - Trends, Threats And Transformation", Ms Cheong said that Singapore's population density would increase from 11,000 people per sq km to 13,700 people per sq km between now and 2030.

"This is alarming. As Singapore's land area is a mere 720 sq km, does this mean that our population size could go up to 9,864,000, or nearly 10 million, by 2030?" Mr Cheang asked.

"This figure is not the same as that projected in the Population White Paper of 2013 - 6.9 million by 2030."

"I hope the authorities can explain this new figure on population density, and assure Singaporeans that everything is being planned to prepare for such an eventuality," he added.

Protest against having 6.9 million population

In Jan 2013, the government released a controversial white paper called "Population White Paper" (PWP) which projected that Singapore's population would hit 6.9 million by 2030.

It projects an average increase of 100,000 more people in Singapore each year. The PWP argued that up to 30,000 new permanent residents and 25,000 naturalized citizens each year are needed to sustain Singapore's population due to the falling birth rates in Singapore.

It also justified immigration and presence of foreign workers as helping local businesses thrive and "create good jobs for Singaporeans".

The motion was passed in Parliament to endorse the PWP by 77 PAP votes to 13 (the 13 opponents included all members of the opposition and three nominated MPs), albeit after amendments made to leave out "population policy" and add focus on infrastructure and transport development.

Singaporeans reacted to the PWP with shock and anger and this has led to the largest public protest ever organized in Singapore's history. News of the public protest made headlines in world news.

Many Singaporeans have attributed the government's population and immigration policy as the cause of overcrowding and falling reliability of its public transportation system, increasing property prices for housing, suppressed wage level, increased competition for jobs and education, increasing income inequality and other social problems. Academics have also criticized the PWP as being "overly mechanistic, economically simplistic and astonishingly sociologically and politically naive".

In any case, if we were to believe in Mr Cheang's calculation based on the input from our HDB Chief, then the final population figure by 2030 would be even worse hitting nearly 10 million.

Editor's note - Please note that the land space for 11,000 per sq km is not the same as that in 2030 where the Ministry of National Development (MND) said those works would increase the country's land area by some 5,200ha by 2030.

"All in, Singapore in 2030 will have 76,600ha of land, up from the 71,400ha it currently has."