8m population by 2030?

8m population by 2030?

SINGAPORE - Earlier this year, Singaporeans balked at the idea of having 6.9 million people on our tiny island. But some experts, including Dr Parag Khanna, Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, has said that Singapore can fit 8 million or more by 2030.

That is, if urban planning plays its part in spreading out the load.

"There is a much more physically devolved Singapore in which the towns play a much stronger role, in which there's much more local economic activity and vibrancy, in which everyone is not cramping down into Orchard or CBD every single day. And that Singapore can most certainly accommodate a couple million more people."

Dr Khanna was speaking at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum on Friday.

Population aside, he said that Singapore is also on its way to becoming a leading info state, using technology to canvas information and public opinion.

"As part of the national conversation here, people were creating stories about certain towns and areas within Singapore, and even geo-coding their emotions through various iPhone apps. There are all sorts of ways to harness these technologies."

In an earlier dialogue, The Straits Times correspondents and economic experts discussed key issues affecting Asia, including increased tension between China, Japan and the United States after Beijing unilaterally established an air defence identification zone over the East China Sea.

Peh Shing Huei, deputy news editor, The Straits Times:

"For Beijing, having this air defence zone is an useful experiment to a certain extent. If this air defence zone over Diao Yu Dao or Senkaku, should pay off in terms of a weak response from the Americans, then that would very much embolden the Chinese government when it comes to Taiwan going forward.

But of course, as we have seen with the B-52 bombers, that experiment has kind of failed and um.. pretty much a miscalculation."

The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum is now in its second year. Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam was the event's guest-of-honour.

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