The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Feb 04, 2013
 
Sylvia Lim, Population

WP opposes Population White Paper, says its chairman Sylvia Lim

 
 

THE Workers' Party opposes the Government's Population White Paper , said party chairman Sylvia Lim in Parliament today.

It believes that the Government, in expanding the population to reach its economic growth targets, has gotten its priorities the wrong way around, she said.

Ms Lim laid out the WP's stance on the first day of the parliamentary debate, setting the agenda for her party's nine MPs.

It proposes an alternative population projection of about 5.9 million by 2030, and a greater tradeoff between economic growth and population expansion.

Singapore should work towards a more modest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 2.5 to 3 per cent to 2020, and 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent from 2020 to 2030.

This is about half a percentage point lower than the White Paper's projections.

Ms Lim also said that senior citizens "are not as much of a burden" as the Government is making them out to be.

A key plank of the White Paper's argument is that by 2030, there will only be 2.1 working citizens to support every person 65 years old and above, down from 5.9 now.

This assumes that senior citizens do not have economic resources of their own and will not be able to contribute to the economy, said Ms Lim. The WP believes they should be seen as resources, not burdens, she added.

Ms Lim also took aim at the Government's "half-hearted" attempts to boost the total fertility rate (TFR), which stems from the fact that immigration remains its key approach to augment the population. The Government seems "resigned" that the TFR will not improve greatly, and has not invested as much resources or tackled the issue as thoroughly as other counties like South Korea have done, she said.

In a parting shot, Ms Lim charged that the Population White Paper's title - "A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore" - illustrated the Government's muddled priorities. Rather, it should be titled "A Dynamic Population for a Sustainable Singapore," she said.

rchang@sph.com.sg