SDP: We made PAP declare it does not have 10m population target

Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan (second from left) on a walkabout in Bukit Batok.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) said yesterday it has pressured the People's Action Party into declaring that it does not have a 10 million population target, claiming victory amid accusations that it had mischaracterised the Government's position.

It said: "Within Day 1 of our campaign, we have already achieved victory on our call for the 'no' to a 10 million population."

The statement comes after an exchange between SDP chief Chee Soon Juan and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in a televised debate on Wednesday night, during which Dr Balakrishan had called the SDP's claim a "straw man" and "falsehood".

Dr Balakrishnan had said: "Let me state for the record: We will never have 10 million. We won't even have 6.9 million. The Government doesn't have a target for the population."

The SDP said it objected to the characterisation of Dr Chee's remarks as a straw man argument, or one that intentionally misrepresents the Government's position: "The idea of a 10 million population is not the SDP's invention or imagination.

"It was first broached by Mr Liu Thai Ker, whom Mr Heng cited in his comments reported by The Straits Times."

The SDP was referring to an ST report published in March last year on a ministerial dialogue Mr Heng had at Nanyang Technological University.

But Mr Heng himself did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people, nor did he mention the figure.

Mr Heng, in a Facebook post yesterday, said: "I was asked at the NTU Students' Union Ministerial Forum in 2019 about the Population White Paper. In my response, I mentioned that former chief planner Liu Thai Ker had publicly said that we should go for an even higher number.

"Far from endorsing this, I had explained that our population size was not just about physical space, but also about social space and how we can preserve a sense of togetherness."

Responding to Mr Heng's post, the SDP said in its statement: "In that case, (Mr Heng) should take up the issue with ST."

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