Political suicide vs Demographic extinction
Like many Singaporeans, I would also prefer to have a smaller population of foreigners in our Singapore but ……
We are facing the crisis of our lifetime. Our citizen population will halve every two generations. This is a serious ‘long’ term problem and the only cure is more babies. But the real emergency is not babies, but ageing. That is why the population will increase in the short term before the inevitable decrease in the long term.
We are one of the fastest ageing nations in the world. By 2030, the number of senior citizens older than 65 years will triple to 900,000. Who will look after us? Today, we have almost six working-age citizens for every senior. In 2030, we will only have two. Even if we suddenly have an epidemic of babies now, they will only be 17 years old in 2030. Hence, we will need some kind of temporary ‘top up’ over the next two decades – foreigners to work with us, care for us, pay taxes and to help create opportunities. Actually even 1M extra foreigners will still mean far less young people supporting seniors than today. However, I believe we must learn to do more with less. Actually, I hope we will need fewer foreigners. In fact, our new policies will reduce immigration significantly. The question is by how much. Only time will tell, and we must be prepared to review this number regularly.
In the meantime, it is essential that we start building ahead of demand and re-organise ourselves to ensure that our quality of life is enhanced and our children continue to have even more opportunities in a vibrant Singapore. MND has just published a long term land use plan at http://www.mnd.gov.sg/landuseplan/e-book/index.html.
As far as water in concerned, we have the technology and plans to ensure that water will not be the limiting factor either.
Our main focus must be the hopes, dreams and fears of our current 3.2 M Singapore citizens and our future children. Everyone and everything else is secondary.
The headline numbers and the speed of change are scary – but we must keep our cool and decide confidently as one people on our future destiny regardless of politics. That is why the government is taking such a big political risk in publishing http://population.sg/
BTW, I found this lecture on population dynamics by Prof Hans Rosling fascinating. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vog3uZ47O8