SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) said on Friday (Jul 3) it was “disappointed” with the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and its chief Chee Soon Juan for repeating a claim that the Government wants to increase Singapore’s population to 10 million people.
The claim is one of the pillars of the SDP’s 4Y1N (4 Yes 1 No) election campaign, with the “1 No” referring to saying no to a population size of 10 million.
Both the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat have denied the Government ever made such plans, prompting the SDP to declare a “victory” in a statement on Thursday.
The PAP said on Friday it was disappointed that Dr Chee and the SDP repeated their falsehood and refused to apologise for misleading Singaporeans
“Disappointed but not surprised, for we knew Dr Chee has not changed, cannot change, and will never change,” said the PAP in a media release.
“A simple analogy will explain Dr Chee’s mendacity. Imagine this. Dr Chee claims you said you want to beat up your spouse. You deny it, and show proof that you neither said this nor have beaten your spouse. Instead of apologising, Dr Chee says: ‘Victory! I extracted a promise from you that you will never beat your spouse’.”
The incumbent party said it was also surprised and disappointed that SDP chairman Paul Tambyah had joined with his chief in the “charade”.
“We thought he was a better man,” said PAP.
The back-and-forth between the PAP and SDP started on Wednesday during a live political debate when Dr Chee claimed Mr Heng had been “toying with the idea” of increasing Singapore’s population to 10 million, despite the NPTD refuting that claim earlier in the day.
After 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.
Mr Heng and the PAP later clarified 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.
10M IDEA NOT FROM SDP, PARTY SAYS
But SDP on Friday rejected that accusation, claiming that the idea of Singapore increasing its population to 10 million did not originate from the SDP.
“We cited the Straits Times report of date where it mentions Mr Heng Swee Keat citing Mr Liu Thai Ker and his notion of a 10-million population in Singapore,” said the party in a media release.
“Did Mr Heng refute and correct the report at the time it was published? If not, he can hardly accuse the SDP of making a false claim now?”
The SDP cited the Housing and Development Board (HDB) chief executive Cheong Koon Hean as saying said that Singapore's population density would increase from 11,000 people per sq km to 13,700 people per sq km between now and 2030.
It also cited ex-GIC chief economist and adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Yeoh Lam Keong, who stated in a Facebook post it could be inferred from the Straits Times article that Mr Heng was “at least open and sympathetic to an eventual 10 million population in Singapore” in 2019.
“Given the above, there is disquiet among the public that Singapore may, indeed, be moving towards a 10 million population,” said the SDP.
The PAP on Friday also criticised Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh, who had asked why the Government could not have said earlier that Singapore’s population would be well below 6.9 million in 2030.
“It is baffling that Mr Singh should ask this question,” said the PAP.
“During the Committee of Supply in February 2018, Minister Josephine Teo had said that our population would be significantly below 6.9 million in 2030. She repeated this in the Committee of Supply in February this year.
“Was the Leader of the Opposition not scrutinising the Minister’s statements?”