5.9 million or 6.9 million does matter

I refer to the 14 Feb 2013 Straits Times letter by Mr Daniel Chia [1].

Mr Chia says that whether it is 5.9 million or 6.9 million doesn’t make a difference; that the White Paper is just a master plan; no one knows for sure if the figure of 6.9 million would be hit; the nation needs to plan for the next 10 to 20 years and the plan should be reviewed yearly and is not a stagnant plan.

There is a huge 1 million difference between 5.9 million and 6.9 million. Tampines, one of our biggest New Towns, has slightly less than a quarter million people. So we are talking about four additional Tampineses which will require much land, infrastructure as well as time and money to build. It does make a big difference and is not something that can be reviewed on a yearly basis.

Also, we can’t be building houses for 6.9 million while expecting the population to be 5.9 million. That would be most irresponsible. What are we going to do with four empty Tampineses? In other words, we can’t be planning and preparing for 6.9 million without expecting the final figure to be close.

Mr Chia also claims that we have come a long way with a forward-looking government. Mr Chia should understand that we came a long way under previous governments. The present government hasn’t taken us much further from where we already were. He should also realise that the forward-looking element wasn’t our previous government but our former economic advisor Dr Albert Winsemius whose proposed industrialisation programme became the basis for Singapore’s industrialisation strategy [2], [3], [4].

Mr Chia urges us to be grateful that the government doesn’t leave problems for future generations to handle. But in doing so, the government may be creating even bigger problems for future generations to handle.

[1] Straits Times, 14 Feb 2013, 6.9m figure no cause for alarm

[2] Philip Nalliah Pillai, State enterprise in Singapore: legal importation and development, Page 30
With Singapore’s secession in 1965, the United Nations Proposed Industrialization Programme for the State of Singapore became the basis for Singapore’s industrialisation strategy.

[3] Danny M Leipziger, Lessons from East Asia, Page 240
The 1960-61 United Nations mission led by Albert Winsemius helped develop a blueprint for Singapore’s industrialisation and development plan and recommended the establishment of EDB.

[4] Ngiam Tong Dow / Simon Tay, A Mandarin and the making of public policy: reflections, Page 66
Dr Winsemius and I.F. Tang made extraordinary contributions to the economic development of Singapore as leader and secretary of the first UN Industrialisation Survey Team in 1961.

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