The conundrum of the 10 million population

by Yoong Siew Wah

This sensitive question had caused considerable consternation among Singaporeans when it was first brandished around some years ago but quite strangely it did not explode intensely and somehow became dormant to the peaceful mind of the PAP.

Then to their dismay at the political parties debate on 1 July Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party suddenly posed this question of 10 million population for Singapore’s future to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan of the PAP and could have caught the latter by surprise.

This is where it shows the magnanimity or lack of it in the Minister in dealing with his opponent. Could it be so brazen to start by accusing Dr Chee of spreading falsehood about the Government targeting 10 million population for Singapore? Had it not occurred to the discerning Minister that multitude of Singaporeans had already heard of it and would it not be preposterous to suggest that Dr Chee started the rumour?

Instead of blustering against Dr Chee could not the Minister have shown more civility by simply clarifying the public misconception of the 10 million population in a more benign manner considering that it was already a public knowledge and not a rumour spread by Dr Chee?

He could have strongly emphasised that it was not the intention of the Government to target a 10 million population for Singapore and that certainly not from Heng Swee Keat. Otherwise this can easily spiral into something so titanic that it could be like a double-edged sword hanging over the PAP election campaign.

Dr Chee had been portrayed as a scoundrel for starting a rumour and I think it is a great disservice to him by the Government. He was only trying to perform his duty as a political opposition and should not be a subject of vilification. I am not a supporter of Dr Chee and it may be true that he may not be an angel but as human being he deserves some respect for his self-esteem. I undertake to come to his defence because of my righteousness to stand up for an underdog from imperious attack.

I am sorry Dr Vivian Balakhrishnan if my article hurts your feelings and I hope that there will not be any hard feelings.

Mr Yoong Siew Wah, was the Director of Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) from 1971 to 1974. He was Director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in the 1960s, and had a distinguished career in the Singapore Special Branch in the 1950s. Mr Yoong, who is in his 90s, keeps a blog called Singapore Recalcitrant.

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