Sunday, 5 February 2012

By today, Mr Lee Kuan Yew has spent half a century tinkering with Singapore's population. On the 3rd Feb 2011, he reinforced his conviction of his latest plan, familiar to all by now: Mass immigration
SINGAPORE: Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has called for the understanding of Singaporeans towards the government's decision to continue taking in immigrants. 

Speaking at a Lunar New Year gathering in his constituency of Tanjong Pagar on Friday, Mr Lee said Singapore's per capita income is one of the highest in Asia. 

But it faces an ageing and shrinking population. Last year, the birth rate was 1.15, with the Chinese leading the decline among other races. 

Mr Lee said Japan also suffers from similar problems. But its decision not to take in migrants has contributed to economic stagnation. 

He said: "Our choice must be the other one - taking in immigrants. I know Singaporeans do not feel very comfortable seeing so many strange new faces, but the alternative is economy stagnation and worse, nobody to look after our old people later on."

A brief walk through history

1959 - Lee Kuan Yew became Prime Minister of Singapore

1965 - Birthrate was 29.9 per 1000 population. Government launched family planning campaign in the form of;



Material 'disincentives':

- Incremental higher costs of bearing the third, fourth, and subsequent children were instituted.

- Civil servants received no paid maternity leave for third and subsequent children.

- Maternity hospitals charged progressively higher fees for each additional birth.

- Income tax deductions for all but the first two children were eliminated. 

- Large families received no extra consideration in public housing assignments

- Top priority in the competition for enrollment in the most desirable primary schools was given to only children and to children whose parents had been sterilized before the age of forty.

Material incentives:

- Voluntary sterilization was rewarded by seven days of paid sick leave and by priority in the allocation of such public goods as housing and education

1980 - The government's family planning campaign worked - too well. By 1980, the birthrate had reduced to 1.7 per woman, low enough for the government to hit the panic button to reverse the effects of the campaign.

1983 - Lee Kuan Yew identified the failure of female university graduates to marry and bear children as a serious social problem. 

1984 - The government acted to give preferential school admission to children whose mothers were university graduates, while offering grants of S$10,000 (that's a lot in 1984) to less educated women who agreed to be sterilized after the birth of their second child.

Social Development Unit (SDU) was established as a matchmaker for unmarried university graduates.

1985 - The policies made in 1984 was shelved or heavily modified because they flopped big time.

1986 - "Have three or more, if you can afford it" campaign was launched to encourage the population having bigger families, this time with no preference of the educational level of the parents.

1987 - Birthrate of Singapore fell to a (then) record low of 1.44.

1989 - Campaign promoting the joys of marriage and parenthood was launched by the government.

2001 - Baby bonus was introduced.

2004 - Baby bonus was enhanced.

By 2011, our birthrate stood at yet another historic low of 1.15. Mr Lee's population tweaking and his obsession in eugenics has arguably brought Singapore to its current dilemma. The PAP never took ownership of the mistake, let alone taking responsibilities.

In the current report by Channelnewsasia, he left me perplexed by citing Japan's economic stagnation was contributed by Japan's refusal to adopt mass immigration for those who studied the rapid rise in the Industrial Revolution and economic fall of Japan as a case study would be sure that immigrant was a mere triviality and hardly a contributing factor to their current situation.

The following statement was even more bizarre:

"Our choice must be the other one - taking in immigrants. I know Singaporeans do not feel very comfortable seeing so many strange new faces, but the alternative is economy stagnation and worse, nobody to look after our old people later on."

Ironically, Singapore was deemed overpopulated in our tiny 700sqkm with a 2.1 million population in 1970. In the name of economic progress today, suddenly it is alright to have 5.2 million people in the same amount of space, not that we reclaimed land significant enough to change the statistic - and we are aiming for more, perhaps a 6.5 million population as projected a few years back?

How would the injection of immigrants ensure our future old people to be taken care of? I'm sure LKY did not mean that literally, for that will be the best joke I've heard in a while. By taxing the foreigners? Maybe. But in the future when we ask for assistance for the old and needy, would that future minister in charge of MCYS be reiterating the famous quote

"How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?"

Don't forget, we need to eat that $10 XO Chye Tow Kuey as Chan Chun Sing advised us to do so.

By today, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is no longer a minister of the cabinet. Yet clearly, he continues to influence in crucial areas that defines the future of Singapore. This time though he will not be there to see the repercussions of his final (hopefully) experiment with Singapore.

But the rest of us will. It's already too late to stop it.