Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 02/09/2013 02:49 | By Channel NewsAsia

Parliament endorses Population White Paper

Parliament endorses Population White Paper

Parliament endorses Population White Paper

SINGAPORE: After five days of intense debate, Parliament on Friday passed the amended motion to endorse the White Paper on Population with 77 ayes and 13 nays.

Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Eugene Tan abstained from the vote.

Workers’ Party MP Low Thia Khiang called for division on the amended motion to endorse the White Paper. In a division, the vote of each Member is collected and tabulated through an electronic voting system.

Other than opposition MPs, who all voted against the motion, NMPs Faizah Jamal, Janice Koh and Laurence Lian also voted ’no’.

The amendment, proposed by MP Liang Eng Hwa and passed by MPs, among other things, explicitly states that the White Paper "supports maintaining a strong Singaporean core by encouraging more Singaporeans to get married and have children, supplemented by a calibrated pace of immigration to prevent the citizen population from shrinking".

"Although the Amended Motion captures some of the Workers’ Party concerns about the White Paper, fundamentally the White Paper still forms the basis of the roadmap forward to 2030, which the House was asked to endorse," said WP chairman Sylvia Lim in a statement.

Explaining the party’s reason for voting against the amended motion, she said the party "believes that the path proposed by the White Paper will further dilute the Singaporean core and weaken our national identity" and lead the Republic to "require unsustainable population injections in the future".

Ms Lim added that the party believes that the greater well—being of Singaporeans "lies in sustainable economic growth driven by increases in our productivity and in our resident workforce, rather than further increases in our dependency on imported foreign labour". Demographic challenges must be "addressed fundamentally and urgently" but focusing on increasing the total fertility rate and growing the resident labour force participation rate, she said.

Earlier, both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean addressed the House.

Concerns over the impact on the Singaporean core and caps on the foreign workforce were among the issues debated over the last five days.

Speaking on a range of topics, Mr Lee pledged that Singaporeans would not be "overwhelmed" by a flood of foreigners and sought to assure Singaporeans that their interests are at the centre of all the government’s plans, and economic growth and population policies are just a means to improving citizens’ well—being.

Over the next few years, the conversation on population will continue, said Mr Lee. He listed three areas for discussion: marriage & parenthood, the economy and the Singapore identity.

— TODAY/ir

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