The Government wants the best for Singaporeans and is hence not passing the responsibility of planning for population matters on to future leaders, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament on Friday.
It would have been easy to "kick the can down the road", he added, borrowing a phrase used by Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang on Thursday during the White Paper debate.
PM Lee said he could have left the problem to a future Government or prime minister, or even propose a "bogus solution" such as setting key performance indicators to raise the total fertitily rate. This would not really solve the problem, but would buy time politically.
"But it would be irresponsible of me to do so," PM Lee said, adding that he hoped citizens understood this even if they may not agree with the policy document's proposals.
Acknowledging the strong reactions the white paper has triggered, he said the Government introduced it now to be upfront with a "difficult and upopular subject".
Singapore is facing an ageing society and too few babies and if nothing is done, he warned, the population will soon start to shrink like Japan's.
Singaporeans are at the centre of all the Government's plans, he added, and economic growth and population policies are just a means to improving citizens' well-being.