Singapore GE2020: Lack of transparency is reason for questions over 10m population figure, says PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock

PSP candidates (from left) Francis Yuen, Choo Shaun Ming and Tan Cheng Bock visiting Block 9 Teck Whye Lane on July 3, 2020. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Progress Singapore Party (PSP) leader Tan Cheng Bock on Friday (July 3) gave his take on the debate on the 10 million population figure, saying the reason it has become a hot topic is due to a lack of transparency by the Government.

"If the data is not given to you, people will speculate... because they don't know. You are not transparent with your data," he told reporters while canvassing for votes in Chua Chu Kang GRC, which his party is contesting.

He also said that in principle, he would have no objection to the 10 million figure if the reasons given by the Government are "sound and logical".

"Just tell us: we want the 10 million, and why. We need it because of this reason, we see it (this way),'' he said, adding that people will then say "if it can or cannot (be done)".

"But you've got to show us the data. Don't give it to us in bits and pieces."

Dr Tan, who is leading the PSP's A-team to contest in West Coast GRC, was asked for his thoughts on the exchanges between the People's Action Party and the Singapore Democratic Party, since Wednesday, over the 10 million figure.

The SDP has made the population issue a key plank in its "Four Yeses, One No" campaign slogan, with the "no" referring to raising Singapore's population to 10 million.

SDP chief Chee Soon Juan had said in a live debate on Wednesday that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had "toyed with the idea", a claim refuted by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan during the debate.

Dr Balakrishnan also stated for the record that Singapore "will never have 10 million" and referred Dr Chee to a statement by the National Population and Talent Division.

The division stated categorically on Wednesday that the Government "has not proposed, planned nor targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million".

The following day, Mr Heng rebutted Dr Chee's claim in a Facebook post.

"Let me be clear: The Government has never proposed or targeted for Singapore to increase the population to 10 million. And if we look at today's situation, our population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030," he wrote.

The PAP, in a rebuke to Dr Chee on the same day, said he should apologise to Singaporeans for misleading them with a falsehood.

In the lead-up to the July 10 polls, Dr Tan's party has been calling for greater transparency from the PAP government, including how Singapore's reserves are being used.

On Friday, he said the fundamental reason people have started to question the Government on issues like the 10 million figure is they do not know if they are being told the truth.

He added that the Government has "to win that trust back".

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