No plans to increase population to 10 million, says Government

In March 2018, the Government said that given recent trends, the Republic's total population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.
In March 2018, the Government said that given recent trends, the Republic's total population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Singapore has no plans to increase its population to 10 million as claimed on some online platforms, said the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) yesterday.

In a statement refuting these claims, it said it "would like to state categorically that these statements are untrue".

It added: "The Government has not proposed, planned nor targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million. The Government regularly explains its approach to population planning, including through annual updates at the Committee of Supply debates."

In fact, the population is expected to remain significantly below 6.9 million by 2030, according to an update on Singapore's population outlook provided in Parliament in March 2018.

The NPTD, which is part of the Strategy Group in the Prime Minister's Office, said: "This outlook remains valid today."

Its clarifications come after statements have been circulating on various online platforms that the Government proposes or plans to increase the population in Singapore to 10 million.

The claim had been made by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and Peoples Voice party, with both saying that they were opposed to the idea.

For instance, the SDP's campaign slogan for the July 10 General Election is "Four Yes, One No", with the "no" being a "No to a 10 million population".

The NPTD also referred to a Factually article published in March, in which the Government reiterated that Singapore's population size is affected by many factors, including birth rates, life expectancy and global developments.

The article also states that the Government does not seek to achieve any particular population size.

The NPTD added: "The Government aims to achieve a careful balance between these factors, to ensure a sustainable Singapore with a cohesive society and vibrant economy that improves Singaporeans' lives.

"We monitor our population trends closely, and regularly review our population policies along with infrastructure and social development needs."

 
 
 

It also warned that publication of such falsehoods damages the public interest by undermining legitimate and honest discussion, and that appropriate action may be taken against any further publication of such claims.


How the 10 million projection came about

The contentious 10 million projection for the Singapore population was first brought up by former HDB chief executive Liu Thai Ker in 2013, as he felt the Republic should plan for the figure in the long term if it was to remain sustainable as a country.

He told a seminar that the 10 million figure was projected on how much Singapore could grow for the next 80 to 150 years at a rate of less than 1 per cent each year.

 
 

Mr Liu felt that for Singapore to remain a sovereign state in the long run, it should not stop its population growth projection for 2030 at the figure of 6.9 million in the 2013 White Paper on Population, and that it was necessary to plan further ahead.

He suggested that even though there was a lot of land to be reclaimed and a lot of land set aside for industrial purposes that could be converted for other use, it was still prudent to plan for the longer term so that there was a better estimate of the amount of land required because shorter-term planning may lead to an increase in land density.

He was criticised by netizens, who feared Singapore's infrastructure could not support such a large population. But he has stood by his comments, telling The New Paper in 2017: "You cannot stop population growth, because as long as your economy is booming and you create new jobs, you need new population."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2020, with the headline 'No plans to increase population to 10 million, says Government'. Print Edition | Subscribe