"Like it or not, unless we have more babies, we need to accept immigrants,"
-Lee Kuan Yew, S'poreans have to understand need for immigrants: LKY
When the population of Singapore was 2 million in 1970, Lee Kuan Yew felt that there were too many people and the fertility rate was too high and put in place a drastic social engineering effort to reduce the fertility rate and discourage women from having more than 2 children.
Today Singapore has 5.18 million people on this tiny island. If Singaporeans don't complain, the PAP govt would like to bring more immigrants and grow the population. We all know it will be great for the boosting GDP growth, more people means more economic activity. The problem is overcrowding causing housing price to spiral up, public transport to be overcrowded, and increase competition for everything - jobs, places in school and healthcare services etc. The PAP effort to bring in foreigners at an extreme rate is rarely seen anywhere else in the world except in oil rich middle east where the foreigners do all the work while local indigenous people sit on top and enjoy the fruits of foreign labor. Here Singaporeans are pushed out of jobs, housing and have to struggle with sharp increase in cost of living. Today 36% of the population is foreign - four out of ten people in Singapore.
Workforce expansion not productivity and innovation account for much of the growth in the last 10 years when the PAP govt stepped on the accelerator to bring in foreign workers. The increase in population density strained our infrastructure and caused the price of scarce resources such as housing to spiral up. Cost of doing business (rental, utilities, transport) less labor also went up which drove businesses to seek out cheaper labor to maintain their profits. This vicious cycle created a dependency on the foreign influx for growth - this is evident when slight moderation of this policy last year quickly caused our economy to slow.
LKY is now saying we should import more foreigners to solve another problem - this will surely drive us further into the vicious cycle and make us even more dependent on the foreign influx to solve our problems. Within a decade we will see the % of Singapore born citizens dropping below 50% and Singaporeans becoming a minority in their own country.
The best way to solve the low fertility rate amomg Singaporeans is to do more to raise it. Look seriously at the issues that is stopping Singaporeans from having more children like the high cost of living especially the high cost of raising a child in Singapore. Stop discrimination in policies that target only a segment of our population with incentives. For example, giving tax rebates for having children. Clearly, such policies target higher income families and leave out lower income families than cannot claim all the tax rebate becuase their income is not high enough. Lower the income gap so that a person working a full time job can afford to get married and start a family.
Arguing that we have to import adults to make up for the short fall in babies today is technically wrong. When we bring in adults today, it is to compensate for the shortfall between 1980 and 1990. During that period, the fertility rate was below replacement level but still relatively high about 1.8 to1.9. This converts to a shortfall of a few thousand to maintain a stable population but the number of new citizens (not counting PRs) per year for the last 10 years is triple this figure. This large figure will cause us to have an even bigger ageing population several decades from now when these new citizens grow old....and the problem will be even harder to solve.
Resorting to short cuts like importing people to boost GDP growth and importing people to compensate for the lower fertility rate is unsustainable and putsus in a vicious cycle of foreign influx dependency. In time to come, the Singaporean identity which we all treasure so much will be destroyed and with that the emotional meaning of being a Singaporean will disappear with it.