People’s Action Party (PAP) First Assistant Secretary-General Heng Swee Keat said on Thursday (2 July) that he “did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people”, nor did he mention the figure.
This came after the chief of Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) Chee Soon Juan mentioned at an inter-political debate ahead of the General Election (GE) on Wednesday (1 July) that Mr Heng was “toying with the idea” of increasing Singapore’s population to 10 million people.
In the debate, Dr Chee said, “And over and above all this, Mr Heng Swee Keat then comes up to say, in an interview, toys with the idea of bringing our population up to 10 million.”
He continued, “Singaporeans are deadly worried about this proposal. Will you categorically tell Singaporeans right now that your party has no intention of raising our population to 10 million by continuing to bring in foreigners—especially foreign PMETs—into Singapore to compete with our PMETs for jobs?”
PAP’s candidate Vivian Balakrishnan – who took part in the debate – refuted his point, saying that it was “false statement” and Dr Chee was raising a “false straw man”.
Following that, Mr Heng took to Facebook to add his two cents the statement.
“As the Straits Times clarified this morning, I did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people, nor did I mention the figure,” he wrote.
Mr Heng added that he did mention former chief planner Liu Thai Ker – who publicly said that Singapore should go for a higher number of population – at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Student Union Ministerial Forum in 2019.
“Far from endorsing this, I had explained that our population size was not just about physical space, but also about social space and how we can preserve a sense of togetherness,” he asserted.
Mr Heng – who used to hold the Deputy Prime Minister position before Parliament dissolved – made it clear that the Government has “never proposed or targeted” to increase the country’s population to 10 million.
“And if we look at today’s situation, our population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030,” he remarked.