Thursday, 2 July 2020

How the projected 6.9 million population became 10 million: It's not a target

It started with this bombshell report about the Population White Paper released by the Government in January 2013:

Singapore's population could hit 6.9m by 2030

Which kicked off a chain of negative reactions:

To the point where the Government had to say the 6.9 million population is not a target:

Then along came Dr Liu Thai Ker to drop his 10 million bombshell:

The Sunday Times reported on April 28, 2013:
Singapore should look beyond 2030 and plan for a more distant future – perhaps even one with 10 million people, former chief planner Liu Thai Ker said at a public forum yesterday.

“The world doesn’t end in 2030, and population growth doesn’t end at 6.9 million,” he said, referring to the planning parameter in the Government’s White Paper on Population.

Singapore could do well to look ahead, perhaps to 2100 when it might have a population of 10 million, he suggested.

Mr Liu was one of five speakers at a forum organised by the Singapore Institute of Planners (SIP) and co-hosted by the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture, on the topic of planning for 2030.

Mr Liu, who used to head the Housing Board, argued that population growth is necessary for economic growth.

And since Singapore’s land area is essentially fixed, higher density is thus inevitable.

But he was optimistic that “high density and a better living environment are mutually compatible”.

Liveability can be preserved with adequate amenities, buffers of greenery, and alternating denser and less dense areas.
Since Dr Liu is part of the establishment, some took what he said as the view of the Government even though it wasn't.

He reiterated his 10 million population stand on The Business Times front page the next year:

And again in The New Paper in 2017.

With headlines like these, no wonder many mistakenly believe the Government is pushing for a 10 million population even though Dr Liu doesn’t speak for the Government.

Then The Straits Times reported this about DPM Heng Swee Keat at a ministerial dialogue at NTU last year:
On the projected population of 6.9 million by 2030, set out in the Government's 2013 Population White Paper, Mr Heng said the number goes beyond how densely populated Singapore would be. The social space is as important.

Singapore's population density is not excessive, he said, noting that other cities are a lot more crowded in terms of liveable space.

He cited former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.

Many, including SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, jumped on the "cited" part of the report as Mr Heng's confirmation of the Government's endorsement of Dr Liu's 10 million population fixation, although it was hardly a smoking gun.

Dr Chee has campaigned on this issue with his "NO TO 10 MILLION Population" tagline:

And brought it up in last night's debate: "Mr Heng See Keat comes up and states in an interview, toyed with the idea of bringing our population up to 10 million. Singaporeans are deadly worried about this proposal."

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan called it a "falsehood".

Dr Chee said it was "Mr Heng Swee Keat that came up with the idea of the 10 million population" and added "I'm citing the interview."

The "interview" Dr Chee was referring to was the one at the ministerial forum reported by ST last year.

After the debate, he shared the ST article on Facebook:

Which doesn't really prove that Mr Heng said what Dr Chee said Mr Heng said, although I understand how it could be misinterpreted that way.

UPDATE: From an unverified source, here is what Mr Heng actually said at the forum:
But seriously on the population issue, 6.9 million number that was put out earlier on. In fact, I met Mr Liu Thai Ker, our former chief planner, I think he had publicly said, it has been reported in the papers that we should go for even higher number and that how this little red dot can accommodate many more people. Now whether this little red dot can accommodate many more people actually is not strictly just a physical constraint. We cannot be thinking of 50 million people on this little red dot because it will just be so dense and unpleasant. But the population number is not just about physical space, it is also about the social space, it is about the sense of togetherness.
So it appears he didn’t mention the 10 million figure at all.

Mr Heng himself finally responded this morning with his own Facebook post:
As the Straits Times clarified this morning, I did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people, nor did I mention the figure.

I was asked at the NTU Student Union Ministerial Forum in 2019 about the Population White Paper. In my response, I mentioned that former chief planner Liu Thai Ker had publicly said that we should go for an even higher number. Far from endorsing this, I had explained that our population size was not just about physical space, but also about social space and how we can preserve a sense of togetherness.

Let me be clear: The Government has never proposed or targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million. And if we look at today’s situation, our population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.

That is as definitive as it gets.

Even SDP has accepted it and claimed credit for it:

But does it mean this whole "Government wants Singapore to have 10 million population" thing is finally dead?

I doubt it.

PAP should be really annoyed with Dr Liu right now.

Monday, 29 June 2020

That’s a fowl: I finally got free Texas Chicken meal by pretending to be a Liverpool fan

Dear Texas Chicken Singapore,

I have a confession to make – I’m not a football fan.

But I’m a fan of free food.

Because I’m a fan of free food, I have pretended to be a football fan – specifically, a Liverpool fan.

It started last June after Liverpool won the Uefa Champions League after 14 years.

For some reason, even though Liverpool is not part of Singapore or vice versa, to celebrate the English football club’s European victory, several eateries in Singapore offered one menu item for free for one day to customers wearing a Liverpool jersey.

Even when our national team won big matches in the past, I don’t recall any restaurant offering free food.

Although that could just be because the last time Singapore won a big match was so long ago that I can’t remember.

What was more baffling was that one of the places offering free food to celebrate Liverpool’s win was Texas Chicken Singapore as Liverpool is nowhere near Texas or Singapore. We’re on three separate continents.

If you had offered a free meal when the Houston Astros won the World Series, sure, that would make sense since Houston is part of Texas, even though no one in Singapore cares about baseball.

But free food is free food and who was I to look at free fried chicken in the beak?

All I needed was a Liverpool jersey. The closest thing I got was a Liverpool T-shirt.

I had bought it together with a Manchester City shirt for $50 for both at Takashimaya for the sole purpose of trolling a colleague, who is a die-hard Reds fan.

Last year, Liverpool and City were in a close race for the English Premier League (EPL) title.

If Liverpool had won, I would wear the Liverpool shirt to annoy him because he knows I’m not really a Reds fan.

If Man City had won, I would wear the City shirt to rub it in.

It was win-win either way for me. The latter came true. Rub, rub.

But Reds fans could console themselves with the Champions League trophy – along with your free two-piece combo offer.

However, by the time my colleague and I reached the Texas Chicken outlet at Nex in our Liverpool apparel (him in an actual jersey), we were told the free combo had sold out.

How was that possible?

Apparently, there was a cap of 100 free combos per outlet, which wasn’t mentioned in the offer. Just “while stocks last”. I felt cheated.

I felt even more cheated a couple of hours later when you announced on Facebook that the 100 combo limit was lifted for the rest of the day.

So I was both too late and too early.

I was so upset that I complained on your Facebook page: “I went all the way to Nex at 6.50pm and was told only the first 100 customers get the free combo. And now you lift the cap. You cheat my feelings twice in one day.”

To my surprise, you actually replied to my comment and asked me to message you back.

A week later, I received a Texas Chicken $10 gift voucher in the mail. Woohoo! I haven’t thanked you for that.

Complaining on Facebook works. Former PAP candidate Ivan Lim knows what I’m talking about.

Then in a moment of weakness, I decided to give the $10 voucher to my colleague because he’s the true Liverpool fan. Also, I wanted to make up for trolling him.

So in the end, I didn’t get my free Texas Chicken meal.

That is, until last Friday.

Liverpool finally won the EPL title after 30 years.

You posted on Facebook: “Don your #LiverpoolFC jersey to any Texas Chicken outlet today – and receive a free 2-piece Chicken Combo meals (U.P. $8.80). Available for dine-in only from 11am till 9pm today or while stocks last.”

This time, I didn’t take any chances and showed up at your Star Vista outlet at 12.10pm in my mask and Liverpool T-shirt.

A guy in a Reds jersey was already in front of me ordering the free combo. Nice to know I wouldn’t be dining alone.

When it was my turn, the cashier saw my shirt and guessed what I wanted. All he asked was “Original or spicy?” and “Drink?”

Best of all, he charged me nothing.

I finally got my free Texas Chicken meal!

About six other guys in Liverpool tops were in the restaurant with me. I'm not sure if they were all wearing jerseys.

I was happy at first, but now I feel guilty after realising I got the free food under false pretences.

I’m a fraud.

The offer was meant for Liverpool fans and I’m not one. I just got the T-shirt (not even a jersey) – and for a rather nefarious reason.

I apologise to you and all true Reds fans.

There goes my chances of becoming a PAP candidate.

To clear my conscience and help me sleep at night, I would like to belatedly pay you $8.80 for the free spicy two-piece combo I didn’t deserve.

Please let me know how.

You have PayLah?

- Published in The New Paper, 29 June 2020

EARLIER: Getting free food with my Liverpool T-shirt

From readers:
Dear SM Ong,

I read your article in the New Paper dated 29June 2020. You are so honest and funny! The photo is also funny... You look guilty hahaha. I read it laughing so much. Thank you for your honestly and humor... And making my day brighter. Pls write more...

Best regards,

Hi the new paper and smong journalist

I enjoy reading the new paper but not from today onwards

What is the purpose of The New Paper and any ethics being a journalist ?

As I was reading today article, I was fill with rage 😤, what values are you communicating to your reader? Are you asking us the readers to follow your journalist to wear a PAP t shirt and vote for opposition?! We have enough of fake news and spam in this information era! With deception news like yours, the kids and adults will think is ok to pretend and get a free meal

I am diehard Liverpool fan, the YNWA has encouraged me to complete my cancer treatment. I only have a red t shirt, I understand the meaning t shirt is not a jersey (I haven’t own one because is $100 over dollars which I cannot afford) so I didn’t go for the free combo meal. Your act is annoying to me, worst thing is your Facebook complain, I praying there will be lesser singaporean like you to exist on earth! You paid your price of unable to sleep and guilt, for all you know, the God above may cause a drought of 30yrs for Manchester City, not sure will you live to see it, is really sad to read such an article on a Monday morning!!!

I am saddened an adult matured and responsible can do such an act to create a news to bring values to the next generations that is ok to cheat and have what you want! A Little act will not cause harm and going to jail...

I sincerely hope your editor and CEO of SPH can look into this! If not, I will do like the journalist share in social media to get attention! With power comes responsibility. Those who are in power has responsibilities and make singapore a better place

You all owe an apology especially to Texas Chicken who want to celebrate a happy moment with all the truthful fans but abused by some, who did without consciousness. Very Sad 😔

Thank you

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Yes, Progress Singapore Party member Craig Teo is the guy from old 90s local sitcoms

So I chanced upon this on social media today:

I thought, hey, that guy looked familiar. Even the name Craig Teo sounded familiar

He looks like the guy who starred in local 90s sitcoms Happy Belly and Three Rooms.

So I googled him. It turns out he has his own SgWiki page: "Craig Teo, formerly known as Gregory Teo, is a Singaporean actor, presenter, and comedian."

It is him!

It appears that he is now a member of Dr Tan Cheng Bock's Progress Singapore Party (PSP), showing up in the party's photos and hosting its videos.

Good for him.

Only a few years ago, he starred as local forensic legend, Professor Chao Tzee Cheng, in the Channel 5 docudrama series Whispers Of The Dead for two seasons.

By then, he was billed as Craig Teo. Back in the 90s, it was Gregory Teo, which is what I remember him as.

Too bad he is not in the first batch of potential PSP candidates for the upcoming General Elections recently announced.

It would be a shame if the party doesn't field him as a candidate.

After all, it seems that being a former cast member of Happy Belly gives you a pretty good chance of getting elected.