Heng Chee How flubs WP numbers

As Senior Minister of State Heng Chee How asked for the retirement age to be extended to 67, I was looking for a glimmer of hope for SMEs. Instead he happily delivered the following (quoting from the article):

Earlier in his speech, Mr Heng also rebutted the Workers’ Party’s argument of allowing 10,000 new citizens a year versus the White Paper’s proposal of 15,000 to 25,000 per year.

He said there are about 18,000 deaths among the population each year. Hence, the Workers’ Party’s proposal would not be enough to even make up for those who pass away.

It will also make the opposition party’s own hope of achieving one per cent growth in Singapore’s citizen workforce between now and 2020 harder to achieve, he added.

I had mentioned this to a friend in the PAP before, when this silly argument was first circulating as a rebuttal of WP’s 10,000 new citizens a year idea. That logic, which Mr Heng has embraced in public, overlooks a very simple statistic – WP is talking about immigrant citizens, not children born to Singaporeans.

Our current birth rate hangs at about 40,000 a year, with thousands more in a Dragon year (though that effect is waning). With death rates at 18,000 and new immigrants at 10,000, we have a manageable 32,000 net growth in numbers. I can hardly imagine the WP proposes for us to throw 30,000 babies a year into the longkang, Pharoah style, so that figure is obviously about new immigrants. Mr Heng should have just focused on his plan to keep older citizens employed for longer, instead of drinking the Kool Aid and trying to score political cheap shots.


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