SDP removes ‘No to 10m population’ aim from GE2020 campaign after Heng Swee Keat’s statement

The Singapore Democratic Party has updated its GE2020 campaign. (SCREENSHOTS:  CNA's YouTube channel/SDP's Facebook page)
The Singapore Democratic Party has updated its GE2020 campaign. (SCREENSHOTS: CNA's YouTube channel/SDP's Facebook page)

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Thursday (2 July) claimed “victory” on its call against a 10-million population and has removed it from the party’s General Election (GE) campaign following comments by two ministers that the government had never set such a population target.

“The SDP launched our GE campaign with its slogan of 4 Yeses and 1 No. Within Day 1 of our campaign, we have already achieved victory on our call for the "no" to a 10-million population,” the opposition party said in a post on its Facebook page.

In a televised debate on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan rebuked SDP chief Chee Soon Juan for his “false statement” about the figure.

“Let me state for the record, we will never have 10 million (people). We won't even have 6.9 million. The government doesn't have a target for the population,” Dr Balakrishnan said during the debate broadcast live on TV and online.

Dr Balakrishnan also mentioned the media statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to debunk the “untrue” statements about the population “target”. The PMO also cited a population outlook that forecast Singapore’s total population is likely to be “significantly below” 6.9 million by 2030 given recent trends. “This outlook remains valid today,” it added.

The SDP had cited comments by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at a forum in a Straits Times article to back up its claim previously about the government’s alleged population target.

But in a Facebook post on his page on Thursday, Heng reiterated the government’s position that it had never proposed or targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million.

Heng said, “As the Straits Times clarified this morning, I did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people, nor did I mention the figure.”

The People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate for East Coast GRC at the upcoming GE said he was asked at the NTU Student Union Ministerial Forum in 2019 about the Population White Paper. He mentioned in his response at the forum that former chief planner Liu Thai Ker had publicly said that Singapore should go for an even higher number.

“Far from endorsing this, I had explained that our population size was not just about physical space, but also about social space and how we can preserve a sense of togetherness,” Heng said.

The SDP is, however, still pressing the issue about Singapore’s population growth.

In its Facebook post, the SDP said, “Now that Dr Chee has successfully extracted an assurance from the PAP that it has no intention of increasing the population to 6.9 or 10 million, we invite the PAP to tell Singaporeans what its target population is beyond the vague statement that it would be ‘significantly below’ 6.9 million. Voters deserve to know.”

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