PAP MP moves to drop ‘policy’ from population motion

MP for Holland-Bukit Timah Liang Eng Hwa moved to amend the motion for the currently-debated Population White Paper. (Yahoo! file photo)

Holland-Bukit Timah Member of Parliament Liang Eng Hwa on Tuesday sought to strike the word “policy” off from a motion asking Parliament to give its nod to a controversial population white paper.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean filed a motion on Monday asking that the House endorse the white paper “as the population policy roadmap to address Singapore’s demographic challenge, and (the Land Use Plan) as the land use plan to support Singapore’s future population”.

The phrase “population policy” should first be removed, argued Liang, and further elaboration should be provided to clarify the government’s focus on boosting Singapore’s core citizen population, carefully moderating immigration rates and maintaining that the projections are to facilitate infrastructure and land use planning.

Liang also said the motion should specify first that it will be more a roadmap than the exact policy, and second, that the figures indicated are projections, with further emphasis on maintaining a strong Singaporean core.

The revised motion, incorporating Liang’s amendments, therefore — if approved by the rest of the House — would read:

“That this House endorses (the White Paper) as the roadmap to address Singapore’s demographic challenge, and (the Land Use Plan) as the land use plan to support Singapore’s future population projections; and supports maintaining a strong Singaporean core by encouraging more Singaporeans to get married and have children, supplemented by a calibrated pace of immigration to prevent the citizen population from shrinking, and recognises that the population projections beyond 2020 are for the purpose of Land Use and infrastructure planning, and not a population target; and calls on the government to:

•    Place priority on resolving current strains on the infrastructure, particularly in transport;

•    Plan, invest in and implement infrastructure development ahead of demand;

•    Ensure that the benefits of our population policies, such as better job opportunities and salaries, flow to Singaporeans; and

•    Carry out medium-term reviews of our population policies and assumptions to take into account the changing needs of Singapore and Singaporeans, as well as changing domestic and external circumstances.”

Several other PAP MPs on Tuesday spoke in support of Liang’s amendments as well, with a few of them criticising parts of the white paper.

Debate on Liang’s motion, alongside the ongoing debate on the White Paper, resumes in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

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