Singapore Revisited Log 5.4: 6.9 Million Population

When I left Singapore for Perth, the population of Singapore was 5.18 million. The latest population update was 5.4 million in 2013. So on my visit this time round, I estimate our population to be around 5.5 million. That will be about 1.3 million to go to 6.9 million, the figure that the government lately call a "planning parameter" and not a target.

Ah Liam gave me a ride after my farewell dinner on Friday night. We were trapped in a traffic jam and it appeared we would need to queue for a long time before we could enter the CTE to head up north to where we live. Ah Liam has always been the cool guy among us so he wasn't going to allow a traffic jam to get to him. With a sharp turn of his steering wheel, he switched lanes and got us out of the jam towards a clear road. "Let's take a detour. It'll get us where we want anyway. I've got enough fuel to burn. Besides, I would like to spend more time talking to you."

Though the last sentence sound a bit gay, I was happy to hear it from an old friend. Nobody will get sick hearing that from a friend of more than 20 years. Likewise, I would not mind a bit if I could chat a whole night with Ah Liam. Along the way, I asked him what was his opinion of Singapore's grow-at-all-cost strategy. He gave me a summary of the positive effects of a growing economy. One example was a strong currency, which I believe most if not all Singaporean commoners would mind, judging by how often we shop online and go for overseas tours in recent years. The rest of his summary were solid, sound reasons that I could not fault. So we couldn't say the grow-at-all-cost policies do not benefit the general Singaporean population. The benefits have been clear and I see that.

I believe many of my friends thought I was a hard core anti-government, opposition supporting Singaporean. You see, I rant all the time about bad policies, 'dog officials' (狗官) and I migrated somewhere else, seemingly all in a fit of anger. So it was easy to label me as such. I never bothered to explain. Not because I don't care about what my family and friends think of me but some things are better left unsaid. The Chinese phrase, 越描越黑 best describe the situation.

Like I mentioned in the blog umpteen times, migration is a personal choice. I have been unwell ever since I returned to Singapore due to the poor quality of air but I recovered instantly a day after I landed in Perth. I adore the simple fact I am able to enjoy the quality of air that makes me happy all the time in Perth. I am an introvert and I dislike people in general. Worse, lots of people congregating at the same place. In my earlier days in Singapore, I would avoid crowded places as much as I can. As I grow up, I realised these corners of sanctuary are fast disappearing. I love Perth for the abundance of space it provides me. I love the fact the city sleeps at night and I was pleasantly surprised that great sleep is possible only after I discovered Perth. I left Singapore for Perth simply based on my personal preferences, nothing to do with the Singapore government. I criticise the government all the time because they have clearly been declining in terms of performances and have been making glaring mistakes they rarely made in the past. It is pointless telling one another that the government is still better than many governments in other countries. If anything, such a mentality breeds complacency which ironically, is what our government has been warning us against.

While the benefits of a grow-at-all-cost are clear, so are the costs. I shared many of those often in the blog in the past because back then, they weren't obvious enough for the unsuspecting busy Singaporean to notice. By now, everyone should see the adverse effects of a growing population density in their day-to-day lives. I just happened to foresaw them earlier and didn't like what I saw (that's why I'm in Perth and not you). Since most Singaporeans are still happily living in Singapore, I will assume these conditions are easily bearable and I am the weak one with a low tolerance for bad living conditions. So what? Even the weak has a right to fight for survival.

Migration wasn't an easy experience for me. Perth scared me to no end during my early days. Ang Mos still scares me and the places around are still strange to me. The good thing is that such things move on a declining curve and things are always going to be better the longer I hang around this place until it reaches a plateau. (which is nowhere in sight at the moment). If I hated the Singaporean government in any way, it would be because they didn't share my vision of a livable city. For if they do, they will make Singapore a fantastic place, given their vast resources and their ability to (still) deliver. Instead, they decided to make Singapore the exact opposite place I will love to live in. I couldn't help wondering if they are left with no alternative. Must we grow at all cost? Can there be economic growth without population growth? Can we supply value instead of cheap labour? Is there no way out then? Whether or not there is a way, the answer ends up the same for me. If there is no way out or if there is but they decided not to do it, I'll find the way out myself. Stay and make the difference? I'm turning 40 in a few years time. If I am a normal man under the CPF life expectancy research, I've expended 50% of my life already without turning 40 yet. If my health gives way, I may only have a decade or less left in me, who knows? Not everyone lives to 91 and get to wave flags at parades. I have my own dreams to fulfill. You stay and be the difference if you think that's worthy as a life goal.

As for the 6.9 million population target in Singapore, if I may be honest, it is attainable. In fact, we can even achieve a 10 million population easily. Singapore may be the top 3 densest country in the world but as a city, there are more than 50 cities with higher population density than Singapore. Mumbai is only ranked the 32nd densest city in the world despite a population density of 20,694 people/km2 , almost triple the current population density of Singapore. That alone is proof that Singapore can easily house 10 or even 15 million people in the country if someone decided to turn the entire country into a city. Yes we can but how would life be when it happens? Some would like it. For example, my friend Tucky would be celebrating being a paper millionaire then if his BTO application goes through this November. The musical chair continues.


  1. To an extent, it is “attainable”, just like in overclocking !

    “The purpose of overclocking is to increase the operating speed of given hardware. The trade-offs are an increase in power consumption and fan noise, the system can become unstable if the equipment is overclocked too much, and the risk of damage due to excessive overvoltage or heat generation. In extreme cases, costly and complex cooling is required.” - Wikipedia

  2. The first time I went to Perth, I was blown away by the amount of open spaces. For an athlete like me, the fresh air and that was just pure heaven!

  3. Thanks for sharing. I was wondering if there's something wrong with me coz I don't feel that Perth is home.