High quality of life still possible with larger population: Khaw

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has reassured Singaporeans that the Government is confident that it can cater to a larger population of 6.9 million while raising their quality of life.

Responding to widespread concern over the projected numbers in the government's Population White Paper, Mr Khaw said that the alarm shown by many Singaporeans - that "the planners must be mad" - is a legitimate reaction.

"Of course, they ask good questions. How can you be sure? More population, but quality of life remains the same or even better?"

"Actually, the answer is yes," he emphasised. "It's possible."

Speaking at the HDB hub on Tuesday morning, he said that two conditions must be in place to make this possible: good, long-term planning, and good infrastructure built ahead of time. Government planners, he said, are using the mantra "prepare for the worst, but and hope for the best."

The Ministry of National Development today released its Land Use plan, which details how the planners will find enough land for the 6.9 million population and the 700,000 extra homes they will need.

Mr Khaw likened this effort to throwing a wedding banquet. When one invites 1,000 guests, one must cater for all 1,000, he said, even if they have not RSVPed and perhaps only 600 or 700 ultimately turn up.

This is necessary, he said, to avoid "embarrassment and chaos."

Even as the Government resolves current problems that resulted from being under-prepared in the past, he said that "our eyes must be on the future".

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