Chiam See Tong, secretary-general of the Singapore People’s Party (SPP), has chastised the ruling People’s Action Party for the 6.9-million target set in the population white paper currently tabled in Parliament.
In a video uploaded on YouTube Tuesday, the 77-year-old opposition leader said that the PAP’s previous policies of having “growth at all costs” led to unpopular decisions such as importing many foreign workers. Chiam believes this led to a job squeeze, where “many of the jobs that were held by Singaporeans were taken away by foreigners, especially the PMET jobs”.
Speaking slowly and sometimes reading from his notes, the former Member of Parliament for single-member ward Potong Pasir accused the PAP of being the main driver in the population target increase and was “appalled” at the decision to set the numbers as such.
“Can you imagine a small island of Singapore with 6.9 million people? It will put tremendous pressure on all our infrastructure, especially housing, as Singapore is a small island and land is the only problem of Singapore,” said Chiam, who was Singapore’s longest-serving opposition MP. He lost his seat in Parliament after he unsuccessfully contested the Bishan-Toa Payoh group representation constituency in the general election in 2011.
Chiam called out the 6.9 million population target as a “huge figure” and one that surpasses populations in Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Norway and Finland.
An earlier speech by PAP deputy whip Inderjit Singh criticised the government for failing to live up to emeritus senior minister Goh Chok Tong’s wish for a Swiss standard of living in Singapore.
More Singaporeans needed to voice ideas for change
Chiam said the solution to combat the problems set by the white paper was to allow more voices from Singaporeans to join the ranks in Parliament and offer ideas on alternative policies.
“Singapore is purportedly to be a democratic country. For that purpose, we have to invite more Singaporeans to join the opposition so they can give more ideas to the government – not only as a check and balance but by giving true, solid ideas,” said Chiam.
He expressed confidence that Singaporeans would step forward “with brilliant ideas and the problems can be solved easily”. In a call for Singaporeans to join the SPP, he was hopeful that the party would offer ideas if they were being “called upon to do so”.
“Together, we can solve most of the problems that PAP have been finding it difficult to do so. They are at the moment dragging their feet and, in a way, calling for help,” said Chiam.
Chiam ended his video on a strong note: “Be brave, come forward and speak up. We must have more voices in parliament to make this a truly democratic place.”
Watch his video below: