On Friday, an unknown guest speaker at the Straits Times Global Outlook forum, Dr Parag Khanna (http://paragkhanna.com/ ) said that Singapore can actually fit more than 8 million people by 2030. Dr Khanna is also Adjunct Prof at the LKY School of Public Policy. It appears Singaporeans’ concerns and welfare do not matter. In Singapore Inc., its merely about numbers.
In Oct, Dr Paul Cheung, United Nations director of Statistics Division, suggested that Singaporeans should “prepare for upper limit in population planning”. link He said that “Singapore can, if it wants, could accommodate 8 million people”. He said this shortly after the Population White Paper’s projection of 6.9 million which was rejected by the majority of Singaporeans.
Our papers, the Straitjacket Times (SjT), contacted another authority on population planning to try and reassure Singaporeans their ears were not playing tricks on them. Well known statistician, Dr Kanna Sai, (unrelated) agrees wholeheartedly with his fellow statisticians. Dr Sai is also Adjunk Prof at the Kueh Lapis Think Tank.
Below is our interview with Dr Kanna Sai (KS):
SjT: “What is your opinion of Singapore’s projected population of 8 million by 2030?’”
KS: ”Singaporeans’ reaction to the government’s 6.9 million population projection is silly. The figure is actually many times higher but the government had understood the people’s resistance to change and gave them a discounted figure. Singaporeans have no idea of their country’s geography at all. It can actually take in 80 million!”
Sjt: “Singaporeans will never accept such a figure. Care to explain?”
KS: “We did a study 10 years ago and figured that with taller buildings of 500 metres maximum, we can already house a population of 20 million. No higher than this as the danger is obvious. When Singaporeans read about the “Government considering underground masterplan” recently (asiaone article), most were not aware of my personal involvement. This is where the additional 60 million people can be housed.”
Sjt: “Wouldn’t it be risky?”
KS: “What risks are you talking about when centuries of earthquakes have proven that we have a rock solid foundation? It is actually safer than building skywards because buildings resting on a solid surface is much safer. We also don’t need to depend on others for water as there’s lots of underground water. There will also be cost savings ie entire statutory boards like the NEA would also become redundant since there will be no haze and dengue issues.”
SjT: “Can you tell Singaporeans why the projected figures keep going higher?”
KS: “It’s actually a statisticians open secret but I will be upfront with your intelligent readers. You have to understand that just a little bit of sensationalism will increase our funding from governments and we do need to survive. Unlike Dr Parag who writes, lectures and therefore has different sources of income which he probably cannot keep track, I have been with the Kueh Lapis Think Tank for 35 years. There’s no harm in providing citizens with some food for thought.”
SjT: “What if you are proven wrong?”
KS: “Ha ha. You seem to be underestimating a statistician’s IQ. When we speak to governments, we always hedge whatever we say with an ‘IF’. Governments will always screw up somewhere and they are the ones who will be facing the music. Take for example the older MRT lines which were created for a population of 4 million. Singapore has proven 5.4 million can fit but its the older MRT lines giving the problem. Another example would be the quality of people allowed into the country. We never indicated to any government to bring in citizens from third world countries by the planeloads. This is your government’s mistake, not ours. We are always right.”
SjT: “Last question. What is your advice for Singaporeans?”
KS: “Judging from your government’s track record, it should be clear that they always mean what they say.”
SjT”: “Thank you.”
Mr Ai Em Hage
SjT Senior Correspondent