S'pore population hits 5m (By Melissa Pang, Straits Times, Sep 28, 2009).
Two (well, three) things struck me:
The number of resident households has also gone up at the same rate - by 1.7 per cent to an estimated 1,093,100 in 2008.
That's around 18,000 households. So, I have so many questions now ... how the hell are we housing everyone if the HDB is constructing only 8,000 homes per year? Is there a large enough surplus of flats? Is there a large enough supply of private housing? Are families now being forced to rent rooms just to have a roof over their heads? The Americans over-extended by trying to have more people to own homes but are we headed the other direction by trying to have fewer people owning their own homes?
2. Percentage growth in population
The latest figures indicate a 3.1 per cent growth over the previous year, with the resident population registering a 2.5 per cent jump.
Ok ... is it me, or is our population growing at a similar or faster rate than our GDP growth? Naively, this should mean our per-capita GDP should be stagnant. Given a huge chunk of our GDP goes into company profits, does this mean we are going to continue to see wages frozen for the foreseeable future while costs go up?
3. The spin ... oh, the spin ...
Soon after I read the article and refreshed the page to acquire the reference links to blog about it, I came across what must be the most blatant spin-article to "reassure" Singaporeans nothing is wrong (in the most un-reassuring way):
Population rises, slowly (By Zakir Hussain, Political Correspondent, Straits Times, Sep 29, 2009)
Just look at the language used ... speculative or stuffed with weasel words ...
The others are permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners. In this foreign pool of 1.8 million, the number of PRs grew faster - by 12 per cent.
It shot up by 55,000 to 533,200, partly because of many foreigners rushing to be PRs to avoid having to pack up and leave Singapore should they lose their jobs during the downturn.
... sooo, you are telling us that our Immigration policies have become so liberal that a foreigner can suka suka become a PR by saying "because I don't want to leave if I lose my job during the downturn"? Come to think of it, that only makes sense if these people want a shot at another job in Singapore if they lose one. Otherwise, why would they even want to stay in expensive Singapore? I wonder how many foreigners actually feel this way ... did Zakir Hussain actually research this "fact" or did he conjure it out of nowhere?
In contrast, the number of foreigners - which includes family members of foreign workers - rose less sharply to 1.25 million.
This is a rise of 5 per cent, which is much smaller than last year's 19 per cent increase amid a booming economy.
More than half of these foreigners are transient workers, many of whom do jobs or take shifts that locals avoid.
To be fair, I am reading what might be a non-existent sub-text with a classic spin ... "not as bad as last year's terrible numbers = 'please be grateful, you sorry peons'". Seriously though, I'm a little pissed-off by the last sentence. It reads to me rather like "many of whom are sitting around unpaid for non-existent jobs because the economy is so damn bad".
Finally, this takes the cake:
The bigger foreign pool is cause for cheer, said National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan.
'That we managed to grow the population in spite of a downturn and sustained low fertility rate is quite an achievement.
'This means Singapore remains an attractive destination for those seeking work,' said Associate Professor Straughan, who is also a Nominated MP.
Yay. I'm so very happy we can have more people to suffer through a downturn and have all those extra people to soak up all the jobs that become available when the economy recovers.
Being a foreign graduate student in the US who might seek a job here, I'm normally very supportive of foreign workers in Singapore complementing our workforce. However, all I can see in the future given how the government and employers in Singapore behave is that the majority of new jobs created when the Singapore economy recovers will go to this huge extra surplus of foreign workers because, let's face it, they are way cheaper than Singaporeans. At the very best, wages will remain depressed for a long time to come. Of course, that's what the establishment wants ...