Saturday, 15 October 2011

Population and Migrants

Overcrowding should be the least of our long-term worries
Letter from Ng Ya Ken, TODAY, Oct 14, 2011

When he opened Parliament on Monday, President Tony Tan urged Singaporeans to prevent a new fault line from forming between those born here and new immigrants.

A prerequisite to tackling this issue is that Singaporeans have a good grasp of the serious implications of an ageing population and declining fertility.

When the mid-year statistics showed that the number of permanent residents had dropped by 9,000, hardly anyone expressed concern. Some took it as a good sign, unaware that a decline in the number of permanent residents spells big problems for our future.

Parliament should debate over the recent Institute of Policy Studies population study, which presented to the public four population projection scenarios for 2050 out of the 48 it looked at.

In the first and fourth scenarios, which were based on zero net migration, the support ratio - working-age persons to one elderly - would drop from 8.2:1 last year to 1.7:1 and 1.9:1, respectively, with the median age forecast to be 54.6 and 50.9. These two scenarios are unthinkable.

In the second and third scenarios, based on 30,000 and 60,000 net migrants each year; the support ratio would still drop, to 2.7:1 and 3.5:1, respectively.

The second scenario was deemed more realistic, with concerns that 60,000 new PRs a year might not be "politically digestible". In the second scenario, citizens and PRs would increase by 1.1 million to 4.89 million by 2050.

Any attempt to cut the number of net migrants now is short-sighted and irresponsible. Future generations would have to accept more than 30,000 migrants yearly in order to prevent the support ratio from dropping too fast.

The various implications of an ageing population and declining support ratio should be rigorously contemplated and debated in Parliament, after which it should endorse the IPS study as a reference for making population and related policies.

The Government, the Opposition and the people should act in unison in dealing with our population problems, so that more comprehensive and decisive actions can be taken. We can have different views on the approach and policy or on the composition and profile of PRs.

But please do not look back and ask again whether we should cut their numbers or complain about overcrowding.

*Online comments with regards to the post above;

- There are 2 ways to solve overcrowding. 

(1) Limit foreigner flow, or 

(2) build more infra & homes.

Writer is simply suggesting not to do (1) too harshly otherwise economy and services will suffer.

But since so many SGs are anti-foreigner, the gut reaction is to blast the writer.

- And the Government has to listen and react to the correct feedback. Singaporeans at large are not anti-SG. Infact many wlecome them. The Governmment must not simply react to netizens; or else they will lose more votes.

- Well said Ng Ya Ken. We are in for huge problem if we do not address the lack of people replacing the aging. Soon no one will buy HDB flats for even $0. And all train operators will run at deficit. The average Singapore retailers are now feeling the impact on their sales due to drop in foreigners. Those with political motives or sitting comfortably in their office do not realise the implication of reducing foreigners.

Look to building up Singaporeans first
Letter from Thomas Lim Nguang Soon, TODAY, Oct 22, 2011

I agree with Mr Ng Ya Ken that "Overcrowding should be the least of our long-term worries" (Oct 14), but there are other consequences to the influx of migrants he would like to see.

The key to nation-building policies, in our little red dot with a scarcity of land resources, should firstly be about building up people.

When our people are well equipped and given the opportunities, they will feel they belong and be more prepared to take on challenges and be enterprising.

I believe that our economy will improve, there will be meaningful ownership and responsibility, young couples will desire for more children, and older Singaporeans will still be able to contribute in the workforce.

The poor and the weak will then be well taken care of because people will become more gracious as one nation.

But in the past few years, before our young graduated from university or polytechnic, they may have felt discouraged by the influx of migrants and foreign talent.

Before older workers reached the retirement age, they may have been perceived as less productive than new migrants and had to accept lower wages despite their years of working experience, knowledge of their fields and understanding of challenges.

The middle-aged, who were striving to meet the cost of living for their family, may have been discouraged that there were migrants prepared to accept lower wages for the same job.

These aspects are more critical than the support ratio of working-age persons to the elderly. The challenge Mr Ng should focus on is how to build up our people with the right skills to do the right job at the right time.

*Online comments with regards to the post above;

- Thomas has more or less spelled what actually happened to our workers. However, in a broader scope of the problem, it was the inflation and economic crisis that forced many of the employers to drop the more elderly workers due to their accumulated salary forgetting about dedication and contributions made by them. So when foreign workers becomes available, many employers took advantage of the opportunity for their own survival and rewards for increments and bonuses. They used these as an excuse in the name of the share-holders interest. So who are the losers, the more elderly workers. Such workers when terminatd in their contract will find it hard to get an alternative employment when most employers do not value such workers as it is the trend in the industries HR policies.

- Totally agree with Mr. Lim!

The govt encouraging pro family working life style, but the employers would prefer employees to work long long hours and pay less less $.

Finally the employers opt for foreign workers as they are youngers, cheaper and more obedient. Now for a Singaporean to earn $1,500 before CPF will feel hard to survive, ask those guys who make $100,000 per month to try n see how could they survive.

No comments:

Post a Comment