People’s Action Party (PAP) First Assistant Secretary-General Heng Swee Keat said yesterday (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 (“I did not say Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million”, says PAP’s Heng Swee Keat).
This came after Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Dr Chee Soon Juan mentioned at an inter-political debate 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”.
At the same time, Mr Heng also took to Facebook to refute Dr Chee, “I did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people, nor did I mention the figure.”
He added that he did mention former government 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 added.
Singapore population increases by 1.74 million last 20 years
Looking at the past 20 years’ population figures, it has been observed that there was a large increase in Singapore population. The following population numbers were taken from the government website, Singstat:
As can be seen, from 1999 to 2019, Singapore population increased by 1,744,846. Over the last 20 years, on average, Singapore population increased by 87,242 per year.
There was a slight dip in the population figure in 2003. That was in fact the SARS year, when large number of foreigners left Singapore for fear of getting infections in Singapore.
In his clarifications, Mr Heng has said that Singapore population is likely to be “significantly below 6.9 million by 2030”.
In reality, it would all depend on the policy of the ruling government. If the government decides to continue to increase Singapore population at the same rate as in the last 20 years, then in about 14 years’ time or 2033, Singapore would certainly exceed the 6.9 million figure. In fact at this rate, Singapore would attain 6.7 million by 2030, not that significantly below the 6.9 million figure.