Population Debate in Singapore Reignited

Economic growth with a substandard quality of life is not a happy compromise

The Singapore mainstream media have consistently been happy taking a pro-Government line. With a well-run Singapore, which has seen the country scale phenomenal heights, there has largely been no need for the media to come down on the Government. I am not an advocate of unfettered freedom.

Objective reporting by newspapers, nonetheless, is something I welcome. I have not seen much along this path in The Straits Times. Even the letters they pick are non-controversial and generally pro-establishment.

Social Media Rumblings

It is only in the social media that we see rumblings of discontent over the Government’s excessive friendliness to foreigners, businesses and pure lucre at the expense of a high-quality life that Singaporeans enjoyed when the population was less than four million about two decades ago.

This morning’s edition of The Straits Times had a letter from a reader in its Forum page supporting the Singapore Government’s White Paper on Population. The White Paper had argued for boosting the country’s population to about seven million by 2030 by importing foreign talent, an exercise that has seen the country bring in international mediocrity as well.

If the anticipated population materialises, it will mean about 1.6 million people more in an already overcrowded and overpopulated Singapore.

Roadmap for Trimming Population is the Need

The population issue had caused a lot of angst among locals, justifiably so, as their wellbeing had been seriously compromised by the Government’s open-door policy.

Amid all the talk of a labour crunch, Singaporeans struggle to find jobs and find places in the local universities. A number of university places for important courses are being taken by foreigners, forcing Singaporeans to look overseas for education.

Economy Not Everything

The most important action the Government must take is to come up with a roadmap to trim the country’s population by about 20%. The economy is not everything when it comes to determining a country’s future. The wellbeing of its citizens and a high quality of life are more important.

In one of my earlier posts here, I had taken the position that Economic growth with a substandard quality of life is not a happy compromise. I have no reason to move away from that stand.

It is naive to imagine that the economy will take a hit if the population is trimmed. The revenues for the Government may fall as there will be less people and entities to collect taxes from.

But the people will be a happier lot with jobs and better education without having to contend with stifling density.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Filed under General, Immigration, Overpopulation in Singapore, Singapore media

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