A reader recently commented that I was "picking bones" with Lee Kuan Yew's speech. The implication was that I was finding fault over small points.
Well, that is that reader's opinion. He's entitled to it. Personally, I think it's important for national leaders to say clearly what they mean. After all, whatever their true intentions may be, their words will simply be disseminated through the mass media into the minds of the general public.
And if the national leader uses inaccurate words, then the danger is that the general public will be infected by inaccurate thinking. Even intelligent people may start thinking inaccurate thoughts.
Here is one example. On the Young PAP blog, there is a post about foreign talent. In the comment section, the YPAP blogger writes as follows:
"Ours is a mere 4 million people state, remember. Our only resource is People. If our women are not producing enough babies to sustain our already depleting talent pool, we have to import them."Sounds quite familiar, yes? You've definitely heard this reasoning before. For example, in his 2006 National Day Rally, PM Lee Hsien Loong said:
"Two years ago, we introduced major policy changes to encourage couples to have more babies. So far the results have been very modest. I understand why some Singaporeans do not want to have more children. But I have not given up hope and will continue to think of ways to encourage couples to have more babies.Well, the reasoning is wrong. You see, adults are not babies. Babies are not adults. Before a baby can enter the workforce, it will have to spend 20 to 25 years growing up.
Let me explain why we need new immigrants. To maintain a population of 4 million, Singapore needs at least 50,000 babies a year. Last year, we had 36,000 babies. This means that we are short by 14,000 babies. No matter how hard we try, it would be hard to produce another 14,000 babies. Hence we need to attract more immigrants."
If the talent pool for our workforce is depleting today, it's not because our women are producing too few babies today. It's because our women were producing too few babies 30 years ago. Thanks to the Stop At Two policy in the 1970s implemented by you-know-who.
The YPAP blogger couldn't see that. Well, who can blame her. She probably got misled by PM Lee.
She probably also doesn't see that if today Singapore imports large numbers of foreigners in their 30s and 40s, this only worsens our aging population problem in the year 2030. After all, all those foreigners would be senior citizens in Singapore by then.
I find the aging population issue quite interesting because if you really stop to think it through, you'll see several complex angles to it. Unfortunately, if you only listened to the PAP (or the mainstream media reporting the PAP's views on this matter), you'd never realise that it was complex.
The picture we tend to get is a grossly simplified, straightforward doomsday scenario: "By year 2030, one in five Singaporeans will be over 65! How will our economy survive?! We're dying out!".
And the solutions offered are very blunt: "Import more foreigners! Make more babies!". Sometimes they add: "Your CPF money isn't enough! You'd better save more!"
Did it ever occur to you ......... that if one in five Singaporeans is really over 65 in the year 2030, this could be a perfectly okay situation for Singapore? In a future post, I will elaborate.