Denise Phua, Population
By Robin Chan
A FEW People's Action Party MPs would have found it difficult to support the motion on the Population White Paper if it had not been amended, said Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) on Friday.
The amended motion acknowledges that 6.9 million population is not a target of the Government, it also places priority on a Singaporean core, with a calibrated pace of immigration to prevent the citizen population from shrinking, and is committed to resolving the current infrastructure problems.
The amended motion also leaves room for the White Paper to be improved though mid-term reviews.
In a heartfelt speech critical of the White Paper and how it was put forward, Ms Phua said that the Government missed an opportunity to engage Singaporeans on the "hard truths" on the alarming rates of foreign workforce growth, declining birth rates and an ageing population.
The paper was not circulated in its final draft form for public consultation, as is usually done when bills are tabled in Parliament, and was launched in a hurry, she said, in the Government's eagerness to meet a "self-imposed deadline for land use and infrastructure planning" and to offer a framework to curb the foreign workforce growth.
"Good intent; bad execution," said Ms Phua.
[I don't know how true it is that the govt was trying to meet an internal deadline, but certainly the White Paper could have been better communicated. I don't believe that the 6.9m was EVER a target, just as a few years ago, another population projection was for 6.5m people without a time frame was also not a target. That experience should have warned the PAP that it is important to properly communicate these findings and recommendations or else there will be misunderstanding and a backlash. I was going to write unjustified, or undeserved backlash, but considering the ill-communicated paper, I believe the backlash was completely deserved, especially since the lesson of a few years ago was not learned. ]