Nearly 3,000 people held a rare rally in Singapore on Saturday to protest a government plan to increase the city-state's population by admitting more foreigners, voicing concerns that it will worsen already strained public services and push up the cost of living.
According to the plan, the government will bolster infrastructure and social programs to accommodate a projected population of 6.5 million to 6.9 million by 2030 — a marked increase from the current population of 5.3 million. Of the projected 2030 population, non-foreigners would form between 3.6 and 3.8 million, slightly more than half of the total.
The plan to admit more new citizens comes amid government concerns that the current population will not help ensure the economy remains robust, as Singapore grapples with a falling birthrate and aging baby boomers.
"In my view in 2030, I think 6 million will not be enough to meet Singaporeans' needs as our population ages because of this problem of the baby boomers and bulge of aging people," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in parliament on Feb. 8, adding that 6.9 million was not a target but a number to be used to help plan for infrastructure.
Although Singapore continues to bring in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from countries such as Indonesia and China to work as maids and construction workers, it also attracts thousands of higher-income foreigners who find the country's high standard of living and stability appealing.The circumstances are obviously familiar--this is what the US, Canada, Australia, and most European countries have been dealing with. And, of course, the negative reaction is also a familiar one. We seem always to come back to the issue of xenophobia.