I was quite satisfied with the government response that the 6.9 million population figure is just a guideline and not a target... until today. It's the second day of Chinese New Year and we got up to a late start. Breakfast at 11am at the nearby shopping mall. What greeted us were long queues of people and crowded eating places. what made matters worse was the pervasiveness of "foreign accents".
Looking at the queues of people at all the eateries, it dawn on me that to accommodate an increased population is not a simple matter of providing more housing and expanding the transport network. The lack of space on this small island also takes a toll on the social and mental well-being of its citizens.
Why do I say this? The wifey asked an elderly couple if we could share their table (there were 3 empty seats). They acceded, but in a very abrupt and cold manner. I don't blame them for their impatience. Having to wait in line just to have your order taken, probably having to wait again for an empty table and finally when you have your own space, this couple comes up and asks to share. I would be pretty annoyed too.
What I'm saying is that Singapore doesn't have to reach a population of 6.9 million to feel the effects of overcrowding. The situation will NOT improve because we have a better transport system or more (albeit smaller) HDB flats. Human-to-human interaction takes a beating. Civility takes a beating. The question is not whether we can tolerate a Singapore of 6.9 million people. Even if the infrastructure permits, do we want a Singapore where courtesy and kindness take a backseat? Look how "successful" the courtesy movement has been. The stress of an increased population will take its toll on the societal fabric of the people here. Especially if an increasing number do not speak or behave as we do. Is this the Singapore we want for ourselves and our children?