Singapore

WP takes aim at PAP’s population policies, suggests growth of 5.8m by 2030

WP says more should be done to nurture locals

Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang said at last night's rally in Simei that yes, there's room for the population to grow.

But instead of the 6.9 million projected figure in the Population White Paper, he called for a projected population of 5.8 million by 2030.

WP chairman Sylvia Lim had previously proposed a 5.9 million figure in parliament during the White Paper debate in 2013, when WP opposed the white paper.

In explaining his figure, Mr Low said it can be achieved through a comprehensive approach to improve Singapore's birth rate. He suggested that priority should be given to Singaporeans' foreign-born spouses and children "for naturalisation as new citizens".

And to spur the 1 per cent annual resident workforce growth up to 2030, he suggested getting more women and senior citizens to re-join the labour ranks.

"We must focus on the Singaporean core, to address the root cause of our low birth rate," he told rally-goers.

"If we carry on this way... we might even see the day when Singaporeans become the minority."

He said the People's Action Party's (PAP) policies have resulted in lop-sided conditions. Citing the Economist Intelligence Unit report which said Singapore was the most expensive city in the world, Mr Low added that in contrast, Singapore's workers' wages were not the highest in the world.

Mr Low said the situation will worsen, no thanks to the White Paper and the foreign talent influx, which suppress wages. Increased competition in the workforce also caused high pressure and stress to the Singaporean worker, resulting in the loss of work-life balance, Mr Low added.

FLIP-FLOP ACCUSATION

While WP MPs had voted against the White Paper in 2013, the PAP had accused them of flip-flopping during the debate.

WP had called for zero foreign worker growth but Mr Low later said this position was "untenable" and proposed there could be adjustments made within the different sectors instead.

He also said yesterday that the Government is already controlling the foreign worker growth, adding that from 2006 to 2010, growth was over 40 percent. From December 2010 to 2014, the growth was 22 per cent.

While there has been a drop, the damage has already been done, Mr Low said, citing how foreign nationalities occupied the top levels in certain sectors.

Many Singaporeans are in middle management ranks despite having similar experience and leadership skills.

He said the Government should ensure good development prospects so that Singaporeans can hold important roles in different areas.

To do that, we need a comprehensive plan to nurture local talent and eventually replace foreign talent, he said.

In an earlier speech, Mr Low said: "Singapore's future should see Singaporeans being the main players and not the supporting cast."

Several other WP candidates also focused on the immigration issue.

Mr Gurmit Singh said the PAP leadership chose to ignore even their own MPs when it came to immigration.

Calling for an immigration policy that puts Singaporean families first, he said foreign spouses of Singaporeans should be given priority for naturalisation: "We only want those immigrants who have strong ties to Singapore to become citizens."

Mr Gerald Giam criticised the number of jobs that went to foreigners while incomes could not keep up with the costs of living.

WP is not against foreigners, Mr Giam said: "Any criticism made is against the PAP's policy, not foreigners themselves."

We must focus on the Singaporean core, to address the root cause of our low birth rate. If we carry on this way... we might even see the day when Singaporeans become the minority.

- Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang

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