Singapore — The “10 million population” saga between the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the People’s Action Party continues, with the PAP releasing an official statement on Thursday (July 2).
The heated issue cropped up during a political debate on Wednesday (July 1), when SDP chief Dr Chee Soon Juan questioned Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on the government’s population plan.
Dr Chee, who made a reference to an interview involving Mr Heng Swee Keat, said Mr Heng had “toyed with the idea of bringing our population up to 10 million” and that “Singaporeans are deadly worried about this proposal”. He then asked Dr Balakrishnan if he could “categorically tell Singaporeans right now that your party has no intention of raising our population to 10 million by continuing to bring in foreigners, especially foreign PMETs, into Singapore to compete with our PMETs for jobs”.
In response, Dr Balakrishnan accused Dr Chee of propagating a “falsehood” and that Singapore “will never have 10 million. We won’t even have 6.9 million”.
These comments have since sparked wide controversy among the public.
Mr Heng has also clarified that he did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population. He wrote: “Let me be clear: The Government has never proposed or targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million. And if we look at today’s situation, our population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.”
On Thursday (July 2), the SDP wrote on its Facebook page that “within Day 1 of our campaign, we have already achieved victory on our call for the ‘No’ to a 10-million population”. This is a reference to SDP’s slogan, “4Y1N”. The 4Ys are “Yes” to: Suspend GST, pay retrenchment benefits, provide retirement income and put people first.
The PAP released its statement the same day to reject the SDP claim.
It wrote: “Having been proven wrong, the honourable thing for Dr Chee to do would have been to admit that SDP’s election campaign was based on a falsehood, withdraw it, and apologise to Singaporeans for misleading them. But that would have been out of character. Instead, Dr Chee further twists the facts. He now claims the SDP has ‘achieved victory’ by extracting a promise from the PAP that it had no intention to increase the population to 10 million.”
The PAP accused Dr Chee of using the issue to befuddle, frighten and divide Singaporeans. It stated that this is not the first time he has stirred drama, with specific reference to 1996 when Dr Chee did not apologise for using wrong data at a Parliamentary Select Committee.
It wrote: “A leopard does not change its spots. The new Dr Chee — of which there have been many — is still the old Dr Chee.”
The PAP questioned both Dr Chee’s and the SDP’s integrity. It stated: “This latest falsehood, however, is not just a matter of Dr Chee’s personal dishonesty. The ‘1 No’ is a key plank in the SDP’s election campaign. Its falsehood renders the campaign pointless, and calls into question the integrity of the whole party.”
To read the full press statement, you can find it here. /TISG