I finally found a little time to quickly read the White Paper. I am afraid it is a deeply flawed document but based on one inalienable truth of civilization on this planet: Grow economically or perish. This is a life and death point most people fail to appreciate. Our whole way of life is founded on growth. Look at countries without growth; it is hell. Smart politicians fear recession as much as they fear going to war. So people get real. I know some people can only learn some lessons the hard way, but don't let this be one of them. It is a mistake that we cannot recover from.
Another huge problem is nobody knows how to grow without adding people. That is why the government have produced this White Paper.
The greatest weakness of this White Paper isn't the 7 million pop target by 2030. It is a huge and nasty problem. I hate the idea but there is actually a much greater problem we have all missed. We assume that we will remain attractive enough over the next 17 years that they will make a beeline to come here. It would be very careless of our leaders to make this assumption.
In an ideal world we want to keep this place vibrant without 7 million people half of which will be foreign. We want to produce as much output and quality as 7 million people with 5 million. If we could do that, everyone wants to relocate to Singapore but we would also be forced to reject them - too crowded here.
In the real world as cities in Asia boom, we may no longer be attractive to draw away even their average talent to come here. Just consider how we are quickly becoming a poor proposition for Chinese workers as wages in China keep rising. We are also exploring new sources for foreign domestic workers because we can't afford their higher prices.
In the real world, we will have to sell out by pricing down to the point where we are sufficiently attractive for them to come.
The White Paper assumes they will come. The future for us may be one where we have to produce at the level of 7 million by 2030 with a much smaller and greying population. If we can't do that, we will compete with lower prices, longer hours and dystopian work conditions. We will look back and say we had past our golden age. Our best and brightest will leave for better opportunities elsewhere like what New Zealanders are already doing.
Gosh! Singapore could really be failing as she is being over taken by more and more cities in Asia. These bunch of leaders aren't up to the task. This White Paper on population is meaningless.
In short like a few others have pointed out ad nausem, our growth and development paradigm is a dying horse we flogged too hard but our leaders fail to recognize much less acknowledge. If you desire a canary in the coalmine, just look at SIA trying to be successful with its old ideas.
To be fair to LHL, it is true that the task before him is actually much harder than what LKY had to confront.
As George Yeo posted to his Facebook page: Whither Singapore? This chap understands. LHL should hold another by election and bring him back to Government. And don't clip his wings like before. He has lots more foresight than you Mr. PM. If I am right, the WP will not challenge him. He might even enjoy a walkover! I believe this is the wish of the people.
Related: How we could have gotten ourselves into this position: Government lacking 20/20 foresight and the poverty of values.
I rarely read the comments in other peoples' blogs and I hope you don't miss the comment by JG below. Sure I am blogging for myself but once in a while there are exceptions. This is one of those rare moments. I can't write what JG had so quickly shared. What shall I say? Sometimes we have to be misunderstood on purpose. Have you ever read two good books which yield more than four good books but you cannot combine the two books into one tome? Human nature makes life complicated. c'est la vie.
So after reading, THINK about it. I am a lazy, time starved blogger.