SINGAPORE: Several members of the House who spoke on Thursday shared the view that it was necessary to keep Singapore competitive in the global market.
Making calls to ensure Singapore remains an attractive place to invest in, they said this would create job opportunities for Singaporeans as well.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Bishan—Toa Payoh GRC Mr Wong Kan Seng said: "The White Paper before this House today is the effort made by the government to prevent a repeat of history. The point is not whether the population size should be 5.9 or 6.9 (million). It is about how we keep our economy growing at a sustainable rate, create better jobs for Singaporeans and provide care and support for elders who have contributed much to our country. These objectives are the key responsibilities of the government. But it must have the people’s support. They must build consensus on these objectives in order of the government to act for the benefit of Singaporeans."
Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Mr Heng Chee How said: "I remember the story of Cinderella. For her, a magical moment was granted her at the royal ball, but she had to leave before the clock strikes twelve. Because at that point in time, the carriage will change back into being the pumpkin, the horsemen revert to mice, and her glittering gown to rags.
"Singapore’s movement from being an underdeveloped country to a developed one happened much quicker than most other countries. But like Japan, we also have a rapidly aging population, and our citizen population is expected to start shrinking from 2025, mere 12 years away. This is a time bomb and it is ticking. Will we experience our Cinderella moment when our achievements unravel? I certainly don’t want to see that happen."
There were also several calls for more time to solve Singapore’s infrastructure problems before moving forward with the population plan.
MP for Hougang Mr Png Eng Huat said: "What are our priorities? In the pursuit of growth, this government has acknowledged it has neglected to pay close attention to the comfort level of the Singaporean core in areas like transport, housing, and other environmental and cultural issues. While the people should give the government some time to fix its 2020 foresight, the government should also give the people more time to experience what it’s really like to live in a country with 5.3 million people with all the shortcomings fixed. Because when yesterday’s problems are not fixed, the vision for a better tomorrow is a hard sell. It’s a no sell."
MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Dr Chia Shi Lu said: "My residents have expressed their concerns to me about overcrowding, the perception that Singaporean wage increases and opportunities are compromised by foreign labour, and a cost of living that appears to be climbing ever upwards. One resident remarked that notwithstanding everything else, ’the bread and butter issues of today must be resolved first’. This is a sentiment I sympathise with, and echoes many of the views expressed in this House over the past few days."
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