20130207 Return Population White Paper to Singaporeans’ drawing board

From: phillip ang
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2013 6:06 PM
To: PM LEE ; <a title="pritam.singh
Cc: bga336 ; bokkoh ; CHARLES CHONG ; <a title="showmao.chen ; cue_liew ; DPM THARMAN ; <a title="gan_kim_yong ; gerald.giam ; HENG CHEE HOW ; <a title="heng_swee_keat ; ISWARAN ; <a title="Janil_Puthucheary ; jaya kumar ; <a title="jjauto ; ken_dxb ; KHAW BOON WAN ; <a title="lchertan ; LEE KUAN YEW ; <a title="ltk ; LILY NEO ; <a title="maliki_osman ; MP ZAINAL SAPARI ; <a title="news ; newseditor ; ngys ; nicole.rebecca.seah ; ongqyqy ; PNG ENG HUAT ; <a title="pritam.singh ; RAVI ; <a title="seahkp ; SIM ANN ; <a title="yuanyi ; ST CHINLIAN ; <a title="stnewsdesk ; STANLEY ; <a title="stlocal ; TOC ; <a title="andrew ; yahoo ; <a title="zblocal ; RICHARD ; <a title="jiankang ; PM LEE ; <a title="rchang ; MP ARTHUR FONG ; <a title="ykbaey ; MP DENISE PHUA ; <a title="21_bsec ; MP SENG HAN THONG ; <a title="inderjit
Subject: 20130207 Return Population White Paper to Singaporeans’ drawing board

Dear PM Lee

I refer to the Population White Paper debate in Parliament.

MPs have provided feedback that Singaporeans are upset with the White Paper on population issues. Although Minister Khaw is aware that flawed immigration policies have “been painful for Singaporeans”, the government still wants to proceed with similar policies.

The antidote for pain is probably Panadol and some rest, not more pain even before we have rested.

DPM Teo said we were ‘heading for a crisis’ which was known years ago. Planning 17 years ahead requires months of consultation with Singaporeans and MPs should not be forced to take sides within 120 hours. Voicing their concerns and suggesting some tweaks cut no ice with Singaporeans because at the end of the day, they will still give the thumbs up. Collectively, those MPs who had agreed on past government policies which have resulted in this current (maybe irreversible) mess must also be held responsible.

This is not possible under our rather unique GRC system. 80 to 7 in Parliament can hardly be called a debate and a referendum would be appropriate for an issue which will have a last in impact on future generations.

A lax immigration policy has resulted in a population increase of 2 million/40 per cent over 2 decades. Chances are the fertility rate of new citizens is similar to Singaporeans or lower, and this exacerbates our problem. If there are no figures to show otherwise, the government should conduct a review of this policy.

The government has again offered scenarios which give Singaporeans Hobson’s choice, appealing to emotions instead of logic. Fear is crippling and the outcome based on fear is always undesirable. The government must move away from this entrenched approach if it really wants to engage its citizens.

The concerns voiced by the SBF and SICC are not unexpected. The disgusting thing is when businesses (the rich) were making tonnes of money at the expense of an increasing GINI coefficient, there was total silence on the problems created by importing cheap labour. Understandably, they continue to clamor for more.

Businesses have been on an FT steroid provided by the government, sitting around for more than a decade with little incentive to increase productivity. It’s about time the government comes up with some sort of “radical measures” as suggested by WP’s Pritam Singh/PAP Inderjit Singh. We have already experienced the side effects of FT steroids and there is no need for more. The government must put a stop to the vicious cycle it created.

Senior Minister of State, Lee Yi Shyan, uses the example of a small town called Yubari in Hokkaido, Japan. He says, “It retrenched half of its civil servants. Public service in the City was badly affected. The public library was gone. Six primary schools merged into one. The General Hospital closed down two thirds of its facilities to save utilities. It also halved its number of ambulances and asked its elderly patients to walk to the hospital by themselves.”

This is again fear mongering and it is also inappropriate to use a small, (ex) coal mining town with a population of about 10,000 compared to ours of 5.3 million. (Yubari – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C5%ABbari,_Hokkaid%C5%8D )

The New York Times ran an interesting story last year – Yubari’s new 31 year old mayor who sacrificed Tokyo’s pay and comfort to look after a down and out town.

Our politicians could take a leaf from Yubari’s book instead of focusing on monetary gains and material wants.

It would be more appropriate to highlight other cities when comparing Singapore ie Tokyo. Tokyo and Yubari are worlds apart – public service has not been badly affected, its libraries are not gone, no instances of 6 schools merging into one etc. One will always cherry pick to support one’s argument but compare apples and apples please, not Yubari’s melons and our durians.

All developed countries are facing this common problem and none has ‘imported’ foreigners on such a scale as Singapore. This is a short term solution – the numbers certainly look good on paper but that’s only on paper. If the solution were so simple, others would already done so. We should not make believe our intelligence is somehow superior.

For all our sacrifices, a quality life has been elusive to most except the rich.


Phillip Ang

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