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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

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The connection with the conversation

I hope someone will clarify the difference between the objectives of the White Paper on Population and the on-going National Conversation.

I know the White Paper has been in the works with the specific objective of solving a population problem – fewer babies, not enough manpower etc. But it strikes me that to do something like this involves going into realms that I thought Singaporeans would have a say in. Such as what sort of economy we want. In the White Paper case, it’s moderate growth going down to 1 to 2 per cent in the future. So I suppose we’ve settled the issue of whether “growth at all cost’’ or not.

Then there is the masterplan for Transport to lay down the infrastructure for the future. But aren’t we still discussing whether our current public transport model is good enough – you know, SMRT and SBS as the only players?
Also, seems like we ditched the idea of productivity – hence, higher pay – at the lower levels? Most of us are going to be PMETs, so it means jobs such as cleaners will still be for foreigners and still at rock bottom rates?

And we have already settled on so many universities to churn out so many graduates with an economy that will hopefully provide the jobs for them? I thought there was some concern that we might not be able to cope with so many grads?

Is the Singapore Conversation going to be a “soft’’ one then? How to be a nicer, more gracious place? Values-oriented? Surely, values must come before the hard stuff like the Population paper gets formulated.

Anyway, I am thoroughly confused. Some clarification is in order before some people start thinking that the Singapore Conversation is a non-starter – since some stuff’s already been decided.

Then again, maybe I’m just stupid.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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