Dr Chee Soon Juan warned that Singaporeans should be careful in believing that the PAP has withdrawn its intention to increase our population to 6.9 million.
In his Parliamentary speech in February 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong backtracked on the 6.9 million figure after Singaporeans expressed outrage over his intentions to expand the population size.
PM Lee then quickly assured that the future population would be left to “Singaporeans of tomorrow and not the Government of today”, adding that the figure would be more like 6 million.
Dr Chee, speaking at a Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats conference in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend, pointed out that Mr Lee’s promise was betrayed by the Government’s push for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which would, among other things, form a single market among ASEAN nations that would allow the unrestricted flow of labor across the region.
The AEC is being discussed at the ASEAN Summit currently taking place in KL and is expected to be in place by the end of this year.
How does the PAP cap the population size to 6 million when it allows the region’s workers to freely come into Singapore? Also, how is this leaving for Singaporeans of tomorrow to decide when it is presently pushing for the AEC plan? It seems that the Government is saying one thing but doing another.
Dr Chee raised the concern that Singaporeans are already under unfair pressure from the influx of foreigners when it comes to jobs. There have even been several cases of workers faking their degrees to gain employment in the country.
Under such circumstances, planning for an even greater flow of workers into Singapore is the height of recklessness. “According to a survey, an overwhelming 80 percent of workers in the region said they would prefer to work in Singapore under the AEC,” Dr Chee said.
“Given the infrastructural problems, security concerns and the stress of living in an overcrowded society,” the SDP leader continued, “it strains credulity that we’re going to allow a free flow of labour into Singapore. We’re looking for trouble.”
Dr Chee also highlighted that, earlier this year, Foreign Minister Shanmugam claimed that under the AEC, Singapore will be the “New York of ASEAN”.
“He seems to forget that New York has strong labour laws that protect workers, that New York has minimum wage, New York has a free media and, most important, New Yorkers can boot out their mayor if he goes against the wishes of the people,” Dr Chee pointed out.
After all the hard work and sacrifice that Singaporeans have gone through in the last 50 years, Dr Chee said, the present set of ministers seems to be quite happy to further sacrifice the people’s well-being and happiness.
If we want to have a serious conversation about integrating ASEAN and bringing the people in an economic and political framework, then we cannot afford to have foreign ministers talking among themselves about people whose lives and well-being for which they have little regard.
Singaporeans must guard against the PAP’s disingenuity when it comes to the foreign-worker issue. The only way to stop it is to get the SDP into Parliament at the next GE.
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