The Straits Times
Published on Jan 31, 2013

Hold referendum on population growth


AS A born and bred Singaporean, it is my right to have a say in the size and composition of the population ("Population could hit 6.9m by 2030"; yesterday).

Unlike measures like the certificate of entitlement, Electronic Road Pricing or goods and services tax, population policies have an impact that cannot be reversed in one or two generations.

It is all the more worrying since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself recently admitted that the Government does not have 20/20 foresight and finds it difficult to predict economic changes, the property cycle, population trends and the number of homes needed ("PM throws light on what led to infrastructure strain"; Tuesday).

So let the citizens have a real say. Let us hold a national referendum to see if Singaporeans are supportive of having a population of six million by 2020 and 6.9 million by 2030.

The referendum can be carefully crafted to present various choices to Singaporeans, including the scenario of very low economic growth or even economic stagnation if we cap the population at 5.5 million or six million.

If more than two-thirds of Singaporeans are against having a population size as projected by the White Paper, then the Government should plan for an alternative scenario.

If a large majority agree with the White Paper's conclusions, then at least we know that we share collective responsibility for the consequences.

Kelvin Quek