Recently I had posted on the
government announcing that they intend to continue the policy of open
immigration, boosting the population of Singapore to 6.9 million by 2030. I
also mentioned the backlash from the Singapore public.
Since then, the
Singapore government had tried
(unsuccessfully) to put the fire out but backtracking a little. Senior
government ministers had tried to change the argument by saying that the
population target of 6.9 million is not a target at all but a “worst-case
scenario” or a “just in case scenario”. Others have said that it’s not a policy
but a “roadmap” for the future of Singapore.
One thing is clear amidst all the confusion and backtracking; the policy/roadmap/worst-case scenario white paper is so controversial that even PAP backbenchers are loath to endorse it! However, being government backbenchers, they have to vote for the policy when push comes to shove.
However, I still have to applaud them on how “creative” they are in publicly expressing their unhappiness at the policy. Take Holland-Bukit Timah MP Liang Eng Hwa for example. On the motion asking Parliament to give its nod to the controversial population white paper, the MP sought to revise the motion by striking the word “policy” off from it!
He argued (I think with a wink at senior ministers) that the phrase “population policy” should be removed, and further elaboration should be provided by the government on their focus on “
Singapore’s core citizen population”
among other matter. Several other PAP MPs immediately spoke in support of Mr. Liang’s
amendments with a few openly criticizing parts of the white paper.
Some would say this does matter as in the end the PAP MPs would all vote in favor of the white paper (and that's what happen) even if they do not like, but I think this tells people just how massively unpopular the white paper is. I mean even loyal PAP backbenchers felt obliged to have their say. If the vote for the PAP goes down in the future, I think we can all say they had more than enough warning.