The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) released a statement today (2 July) to reveal that it has fulfilled one of the pledges under its “Four Yes, One No” campaign for the upcoming general election (GE).
It said that within just the first day of its campaign, the party managed to achieve “victory” of its call for “no” to a 10 million population after People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said that Singapore will never have 10 million population.
“The SDP launched our GE campaign with its slogan of 4 Yeses and 1 No. Within Day 1 of our campaign, we have already achieved victory on our call for the “no” to a 10-million population,” the party said in its media statement that was shared on its official Facebook page.
It added, “At yesterday night’s televised debate, Dr Chee Soon Juan pressed PAP candidate Vivian Balakrishnan to categorically state that the government will not raise Singapore’s population to 10 million”.
“Dr Balakrishnan confirmed that the PAP would not raise the population to 10 million, not even 6.9 million.”
During last night’s GE2020 debate between three alternative parties along with PAP, Dr Balakrishnan and Dr Chee participated in a heated exchange on the issue of increasing Singapore’s population to 10 million.
Dr Chee questioned the PAP candidate about what Mr Heng Swee Keat had said in an earlier interview, which Dr Chee said indicated that Mr Heng was “toying” with the idea of increasing the country’s population to 10 million.
To this, Dr Balakrishnan said: “Let me state for the record. We will never have 10 million. We won’t even have 6.9 million.”
SDP also said in today’s media statement that Dr Balakrishnan mentioned that the alternative party had “raised a strawman argument because PAP had never said that it would increase the population to those numbers”.
However, SDP said in its statement that The Straits Times published an article in March 2019, and the newspaper quoted: “[Mr Heng] cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.”
To this, the statement read, “The average person reading the report would conclude that Mr Heng was is, indeed, “toying with the idea” of a 10 million population as indicated by Dr Chee.”
If that’s not all, SDP also noted that author Sudhir Vadaketh and former GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong also expressed a similar view as the party in questioning about the 10 million population target.
“As such, we take strong objection to Dr Balakrishnan’s accusation that Dr Chee had raised a “strawman” argument. The idea of a 10-million population is not an SDP’s invention or imagination. It was first broached by Mr Liu Thai Ker, whom Mr Heng cited in his comments and reported by the Straits Times,” SDP stated.
It added, “Mr Heng wrote in his FB today that the Straits Times had clarified that he did not say that “Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people.” In that case, he should take up the issue with the Straits Times who mention the figure in its report and attributed it to Mr Heng.”
Given that Dr Chee managed to get “an assurance from the PAP that it has no intention of increasing the population to 6.9 or 10 million”, SDP said it now wants PAP to let Singaporeans know what is “its target population is beyond the vague statement that it would be “significantly below” 6.9 million”.
“Voters deserve to know.”