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Cap population at 6m, says NMP Laurence Lien

Published on Feb 7, 2013 2:17 PM
 
Nominated MP Laurence Lien on Thursday urged the Government to cap the population at 6 million and accelerate economic restructuring, as he became the second NMP to oppose the White Paper on Population. --ST PHOTO:  KUA CHEE SIONG

Nominated MP Laurence Lien on Thursday urged the Government to cap the population at 6 million and accelerate economic restructuring, as he became the second NMP to oppose the White Paper on Population.

He called for a slower workforce growth rate of 1 per cent each year till 2020 and 0.5 per cent thereafter, and to take in fewer new citizens of about 10,000 to 15,000 than is projected in the population white paper.

Growth could be supported instead by better restructuring efforts to bring in higher-skilled firms and labour, to use the reserves to invest in strategic industries and to make use of Singaporeans' savings "to maintain economic vitality".

"I am having a major disconnect. How did we go from fearing ageing and depopulation to having a potential population explosion? Where does this dependence on growing GDP (gross domestic product) through increased immigration end?" he said in Parliament on the fourth day of the debate.

The goals of raising productivity and slowing down workforce growth gave a sense of deja vu, he pointed out, as they were same targets set exactly 10 years ago by the then-government's Economic Review Committee, as he questioned whether the Government is really serious about moderating foreign workforce growth.

Companies are still addicted to cheap, less-skilled foreign labour, and need "restructuring, or rehabilitation, not more drugs", he said.

Protesting increasing the population much further, he pointed out that many of the top cities of today are smaller cities such as Toronto and Stockholm with populations of 2.6 million and 870,000 respectively, and are challenging the traditional cosmopolitan centres like New York, London and Tokyo.