SINGAPORE: The claim that the Government is planning to raise Singapore's population to 10 million is a falsehood that undermines the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) own election campaign, the People’s Action Party (PAP) said on Thursday (Jul 2).
The SDP is using “4 Yes, 1 No” as the title of their campaign in this election, with the “1 No” referring to a 10 million population.
“The ‘1 No’ is a key plank in the SDP’s election campaign. Its falsehood renders the campaign pointless, and calls into question the integrity of the whole party,” said the PAP in a media statement late on Thursday.
PAP’s comments after SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan claimed in a live political debate on Wednesday that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had been “toying with the idea” of increasing Singapore’s population to 10 million.
During the debate, the PAP representative, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, accused Dr Chee of making a false statement, referring him to a statement the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) had issued earlier that day, rebutting stories circulating online about the Government’s supposed plan to raise the population to 10 million.
Following the debate, Dr Chee repeated the claim in a Facebook post linking to a Straits Times report of a dialogue that Mr Heng had with Nanyang Technological University students in March last year.
DPM Heng clarified earlier on Thursday that he was referring to former chief planner Liu Thai Kher’s comment that Singapore should go for an even higher population number than 6.9 million.
"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," said Mr Heng.
He also released the video clip of what he had said at NTU, PAP said.
READ: GE2020: SDP committed to addressing cost of living, building ‘future of promise’, says Chee Soon Juan
“Having been proven wrong, the honourable thing for Dr Chee to do would have been to admit that SDP’s election campaign was based on a falsehood, withdraw it, and apologise to Singaporeans for misleading them. But that would have been out of character,” said PAP.
The incumbent party also accused Dr Chee of twisting the facts to claim that SDP had “achieved victory” by extracting a promise from the PAP to not to increase the population to 10 million.
“Dr Chee first conjures a bogey out of thin air to befuddle, frighten and divide Singaporeans,” said the PAP.
“When it is pointed out to him the bogey doesn’t exist, he claims someone else had ‘toyed’ with the idea first. And when it is shown conclusively that that someone else had done no such thing, he waves his arms triumphantly in the air, proclaiming, ‘see, I slayed the bogey’.”
The PAP noted that Dr Chee refused to apologise for his use of wrong data on healthcare subsides at a Parliamentary Select Committee in 1996.
“A leopard does not change its spots. The new Dr Chee - of which they have been many - is still the old Dr Chee,” said the PAP.