The Straits Times
Published on Feb 19, 2013

Work with neighbouring nations on win-win solutions


IS IT really true that the projection of 6.9 million people by 2030 is unsustainable, when it could easily become sustainable?

Housing a bigger population by then would mean building 700,000 homes at a cost of about $70 billion.

What other alternatives do we have to sustain this huge number of people on a 710 sq km island?

We could choose to cap the number of foreigners at 25 per cent of the population - and face the resulting problems.

Or have we considered how to encourage more people from Malaysia and Indonesia to fill the shortage in our labour force, instead of bringing in foreigners from faraway countries who are not familiar with our culture?

Should we spend billions on housing, or build an MRT line to Johor?

Surely, many Johor residents would love to work here if there was an MRT line for high-speed travel.

Similarly, Indonesians would like to work in Singapore and stay in Bintan if there was a tunnel connecting the two.

These ideas are not new; they were mooted more than 20 years ago.

If the MRT line to Johor materialises, it would address the problems of congestion and housing these foreigners.

We must make the effort to attain a win-win situation for Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore to complement each other.

The real economic threats come not from within the region, but from bigger countries like China and India.

If the younger politicians on both sides, with no past political and emotional baggage, work hard at it from now till 2030, they will bring benefits to both sides.

Tan Kok Tim