GE 2015: Govt needs to stop sending mixed signals about immigration policy, says WP

Daniel Goh of the Workers' Party gives his speech at the WP rally for Nee Soon GRC at Yishun Stadium on Sept 5, 2015.
Daniel Goh of the Workers' Party gives his speech at the WP rally for Nee Soon GRC at Yishun Stadium on Sept 5, 2015.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - The Government must stop sending mixed signals about immigration policy and clarify if its population projection of 6.9 million by 2030 still stands, said the Workers' Party East Coast GRC team on Sunday (Sept 6).

Said WP candidate Dr Daniel Goh: "Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister of Manpower, has been saying that the Government has been cutting back on foreign manpower and bringing less foreign professionals into the economy.

"So the question is, is the 6.9 million (population) planning parameters still valid? Is it still there? Why is it still there if you're cutting back on foreign manpower?" asked Dr Goh, an associate professor of sociology at the National University of Singapore.

He spoke to reporters during a morning walkabout at Bedok South Block 16 market. His team is contesting East Coast GRC against a People's Action Party team led by Mr Lim.

"I think the PAP is sending mixed signals," Dr Goh said, noting that it has been 2-1/2 years since the controversial Population White Paper was debated in Parliament.

Over that period, the PAP has made adjustments to the pace of immigration without revising its population policy, he said.

Mr Goh questioned if the PAP is "really focusing on Singaporeans".

"Are they still intending to open the floodgates over the next three years, four years, five years?" he asked. "Where is the forward thinking of the Government?"

Dr Goh also suggested scrapping the use of population figures as planning parameters altogether.

He said: "I don't think there is a need to commit to any number. That is precisely the point. Mr Lim said, and I agree with him - don't focus on the quantity, focus on the quality (of the workforce). And the quality has to be on Singaporeans."

Dr Goh and his team members - Mr Gerald Giam, Mr Leon Perera and Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff - were accompanied by WP chief Low Thia Khiang on their market visit.

Mr Low's wife told The Straits Times that she made two red hard-boiled eggs for him on his birthday, which was on Saturday (Sept 5). The family usually celebrates by going out for a birthday dinner, with birthday cake.

"But this year there's no time," said Mrs Low. Mr Low is now 59.

Mr Low and his party declined to answer questions unrelated to population policy.

Asked to comment on the spat between WP and PAP over the financial health of Punggol East Town Council when PAP handed the accounts over to WP after the 2013 by-election, Mr Low was tight-lipped.

He had raised the issue during the WP rally on Saturday in Punggol, claiming that Punggol-East had a deficit of $280,000 before joining Aljunied-Hougang Town Council. PAP MP Zainal Sapari has since refuted this in a Facebook post on Sunday morning.

Asked about perceptions that the WP had deliberately chosen its rally to discuss the issue so as to avoid answering queries, Mr Low simply said the party would issue any clarifications at their rally since it is election time.