Did HDB CEO suggest Singapore’s population may rise to 10 million instead of 6.9 million projected by White Paper?


A letter writer to The Straits Times expressed alarm at the population figures presented by Housing & Development Board (HDB) chief executive Dr Cheong Koon Hean. In her IPS-Nathan lecture, Dr Cheong said that Singapore’s population density would increase from 11,000 people per sq km to 13,700 people per sq km between now and 2030.

The letter writer, Cheang Peng Wah, pointed to Singapore’s land area which is 720 sq km and expressed his unease that the Singapore’s population size could go up to 9,864,000, or nearly 10 million, by 2030 given the chief executive’s projection.

Highlighting that this was not the figure forecast in the Population White Paper of 2013, which projected a population of 6.9 million by 2030, Cheang asked the authorities to explain this new figure on population density and “assure Singaporeans that everything is being planned to prepare for such an eventuality.”

Interestingly, in 2013, the Ministry of National Development announced that Singapore will grow its land area by 5,200 ha – or the size of nine Ang Mo Kio towns – by 2030 to cater to the 6.5 million to 6.9 million Singapore will house then.

Singapore will grow its land area by land reclamation, the usage of vacant reserve land, redevelopment of industrial, military, or recreational use such as land at Pulau Tekong, Tuas Port, Jurong Island, some golf courses and old industrial areas. The Ministry projected that these works will grow Singapore’s total land area from about 71,400 ha in 2013 to up to 76,600 ha by 2030.

If Dr Cheong’s alleged calculations that Singapore’s population density would increase from 11,000 people per sq km to 13,700 people per sq km between now and 2030 is true, then Singapore may see a population of up to 10,494,200 or almost 10.5 million in 2030.

Not the first planner to suggest 10 million population

Dr Cheong is not the first planner to suggest a 10 million population for Singapore. Dr Liu Thai Ker, former chief executive of HDB made similar comments in 2013, at a forum organised by the Singapore Institute of Planners (SIP) and co-hosted by the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture, on the topic of planning for 2030.

Dr Liu said that Singapore should look beyond 2030 and plan for the year 2100, with 10 million people in it. “The world doesn’t end in 2030, and population growth doesn’t end at 6.9 million,” he said, referring to the planning parameter in the Government’s White Paper on Population.

Dr Liu argued that population growth is necessary for economic growth. He insisted that since Singapore’s land area is essentially fixed, higher density is inevitable. Dr Liu was optimistic that “high density and a better living environment are mutually compatible”. He suggested that by alternating denser and less dense areas, liveability can be preserved with adequate amenities and buffers of greenery.

One National University of Singapore (NUS) study, however, suggests that  localised residential density may not only impact property prices in Singapore, but  may also have unattended negative effects on welfare. The findings of the study said: “land use restrictions such as anti-sprawl measures that increase urban density as a by-product may have unattended negative effects on welfare.”

When the Population White Paper for 6.9 million people was released in 2013, many Singaporeans faulted the government’s population and immigration policy for the severe overcrowding in our city-state, which in turn affected the reliability of the public transportation system. The rising population was also cited as the major reason for property price escalation, suppressed wages, as well as increased competition for jobs and education.

Some academics also criticized the population plan for being “overly mechanistic, economically simplistic and astonishingly sociologically and politically naive”.

If the 6.9 million population plan drew such a sharp response from Singaporeans, it is unclear what their reaction will be if it was raised to 10 million – even if the target date is 2100.


  1. Boats will align by itself when reaching the pier (船到桥头自然直).Everything will turn out for the best.With money,everything is possible although money is not almighty.With money, all new build HDB BTO and SER can be made 50 storeys.With money,can tear down old mrt lines and build new ones,etc,etc…If there are routes to go up the mountain,there are routes to come down as well (车到山头必有路).

  2. So many stupid websites playing the same nationalistic parochial game by whipping up fears of congestion, queues, deprivation, etc. If Singaporeans can reproduce enough, are as good in innovation as the North Europeans, then we surely do not need that large a population. But many stupid websites do not know enough about economics. That population plays a large factor in country growth. That is why Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia will have an economy much larger than Singapore by 2050. So these stupid websites and playing along with it stupid opposition, prefer to instil fear in Singaporeans, of the danger of a larger population, than in encouraging them to persevere and strive. These stupid dumb dumb do not think for the children of the current generation who will face a shrinking population and almost 14 positions fall in rank in terms of economy size between 2010 and 2050.

  3. Increase the population, raise the retirement age to 70! When population increases, CPF funds also increase, then our ministers will have billions to invest in the whole world including one belt one road!
    Poor true blue Singaporeans will have to compete with imported citizens, paying $200,000 for 35 years of 45 sq metres studio apartment, working till 70 years old or migrate to Australia or United States of America or in future can consider migrating to mainland China ! Our millennial must decide on what type of life they want to live by 2019

  4. Land is valuable natural resource here
    Of course must fully use and appreciate price
    Demand affects supply
    When supply is scare, the value goes up up up
    Population will NOT stop at 6.5 millions
    Greedy mindset will make sure population hits above 8 millions

  5. Assuming no one dies in Singapore over the next 10 years, at a total fertility rate ie max 33,000 babies born a year, our population would only increase by slightly more than 300,000. How to get our current Singaporean population from 3.5 million to grow to 6.9 million not to mention 10 million? Paper man paper woman?

  6. It’s wishful thinking of her part. You can have more but have no quality , it’s as good as nothing. The moment when Singapore is no longer sustainable to live in, the smart and rich will go somewhere. What’s the point of having many Low productive people around? It only weighs on to Singapore. Not very smart and not very far sighted!

  7. Getting really phased off with this Gov!
    Disregarding the people disagreement and they decided 10M it must be so ! ?
    Wasting of time listening to this wayang king white termite gang and their lackeys !!!!
    WP / SDP get more competent members in to the law maker house and screw them white termite gang big time !!!