An old diminishing society with no vitality or drive

From ‘Immigrant influx can’t be helped: LKY’, 14 Aug 2011, article by Imelda Saad, Today

…Speaking at the Tanjong Pagar National Day dinner last night, Mr Lee noted that the May 7 polls showed a drop of about 6 percentage points in support for the ruling People’s Action Party to 60 per cent.

This was largely due to the housing squeeze, with many Singaporeans attributing the rise in home prices to new permanent residents and citizens from China and India. The immigrants have also put pressure on the competition for jobs and on children to do well in schools, acknowledged Mr Lee.

But the influx cannot be helped, with Singapore’s total fertility rate falling. “If we do not take in migrants, we will become an old, diminishing society with no vitality and no drive,” he said.

Nonetheless, the Government is already slowing down the inflow of new PRs and citizens and more is being done to ease their assimilation, and it will also be able to resolve the housing short-fall in four years, Mr Lee said. The strain on local transport will also be eased in a few years as capacity is boosted.

Singapore can have immigrants, or be “like Japan”. “Our population will shrink and the economy will stagnate. These are the stark choices we face,” he said.

Japan is actually doing slightly better than us in terms of making babies (1.21 compared to our 1.11 according to the CIA World Factbook 2011), despite them having less sex than us.   In 2009 LKY was trying to sell to the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry the ‘Singapore solution’ like it was a miracle cure for economic stagnancy and old people (Immigrants a solution to ageing population: MM’, 11 Dec 2009, ST). Which is ironic because he’s old as hell but earning more than several young people combined, nevermind local or foreign, even if they worked 24/7, with two jobs at that.

…’There is a reluctance on the part of both leaders and people to dilute or to complicate the society by bringing in people of different cultures, different races,’ he said.

‘It’s not just bloodlines but also language, culture, the way you communicate with each other. I think Japan faces a difficult choice here.’

If Japan continued with this policy, then it would end up with an ageing population.

‘An ageing population does not consume much. Old people don’t change cars every year or television sets or change golf clubs. So your consumer market is down and you’ve got to depend more and more on exports.’

So it’s just another case of LKY telling another country what to do, like the head of a household telling his neighbour how to prune shrubs when his own garden’s crawling with bugs and weeds. What’s revealing is LKY’s definition of economic success: An accumulation of material wealth, wasteful consumption and the pursuit of elitist leisure activities like golf. As for ‘vitality’ and ‘drive’, Japan has always exuded youthful innovation and a child-like wonder when it comes to advancing technology,  and nothing exemplifies ‘drive’ more than her steady recovery from the recent tsunami disaster. Would Singapore exhibit the same indomitable spirit if a natural disaster were to strike? Old locals may not be able to change golf clubs like we change handphones, but they would more useful in a crisis of such magnitude than a few young able-bodied foreigners whose first thoughts would be booking the next flight back home. The only ‘natural disaster’ that our government seems prepared for is an ‘economic storm’, which involves nothing more than telling Singaporeans to save for a rainy day and offering illusory metaphors like ‘we’re in this boat together’, of course when they mean ‘boat’ they’re thinking as captains of a ship rather than huddling with rest of us on a rubber dinghy.

There’s no reason why Japan should continue to be LKY’s ‘bad example’ when we’re barely dealing with the seething social complications of immigration ourselves, as seen from recent events involving curry smells. The invisible cost of LKY’s pro-migrant policy, no matter how he tries to convince us that it can be ‘assuaged’, is how we’ve exchanged our once hardy, painstakingly woven social fabric for an expensive, low-grade, patchy mosaic quilt that’s looks nice and warm to sleep on but comes apart at the slightest physical insult. As much as one deems this to be inevitable for the overall good of the country, it’s a defective idea which should be first perfected internally and not impinged upon other governments’ agendas. Leave Japan be, for she has been through an atomic bomb, a nuclear holocaust, countless quakes and  tsunamis, and she will pull through a baby slump in her own way with or without  LKY’s meddling.

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