Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Population issues....

Last year when I did the facile estimates of our population breakdown, it was more for fun than anything else. I did not realize then how important it was going to be.

The 2010 census results confirmed that in 2010 there were a total of 3.23 million Singapore citizens, out of a total population size of about 5.08 million, i.e. roughly for every 3 people walking around the streets of Singapore, only 1 would be a non-citizen. That's really not so bad. But these computations do not make a distinction between local born Singaporeans and immigrants. In my previous estimates, in 2009, there could have been as much as 500,000 immigrant Singaporeans since 2000.

But how many of the 3.23 million citizens can vote? The census is not really clear about how many are above 21 years of age, but a reasonable estimate from their data might be about 75%. So that would give approximately 2.4 million. If we consider the PAP's electoral performance of about 60%, PAP supporters number only about 1.4 million, and have an electoral advantage of only about 500,000.

That's really a remarkable coincidence isn't it? Could it really be that the PAP's electoral advantage is essentially comprised of immigrants? This would not be far from the truth if we accept the argument that immigrants tend to vote conservatively for the ruling party. If that is really true, then the reality is quite horrifying. Has the PAP support among native Singaporeans eroded so substantially - that only 1 in 2 native born Singaporeans support the PAP?

If the above is true, it will only mean that the PAP's hand will only strengthen in time as our population growth for this coming electoral cycle will primarily come from immigration. Unless their popular support among native born Singaporeans continue to erode. Even so, it would be hard to see the erosion of support among native Singaporeans exceed the growth of immigrant support.

I am not at all suggesting that the PAP has adopted a cynical electoral strategy of propping up their flagging support through rapid immigration. But the reality of our population changes do suggest that the opposition cannot keep playing to the fears of native Singaporeans against the growing size of the immigrant population. It will be a losing cause. To survive and succeed they will have to reach out to and represent ALL Singaporeans, native or immigrant.

And what of the native Singaporeans? I am afraid all indications are that we will go the way of the dodo bird. We are a shrinking and disappearing entity. The new orang asli. Just like the peranakans before us who have all but disappeared, and only kept alive by 'acting cute', and support from the tourism industry.

Perhaps Singapore needs a bumiputra policy?


Anonymous said...

Per CNA website www.ge.sg, 2.35m eligible voters, out of which 2.06m voted and 2.02m valid votes cast.
I suspect your immigration estimate may be a bit on the high side, given the 2000 Census citizen population was 2.99m and the natural increase is about 5.8/thousand pop.

gigamole said...

Yes... In my earlier post I had calculated based on born in Singapore Singaporeans. In 2000 the starting point was about 2.65 million, and by natural growth, in 2009 we should have (by an increase of 5-9/1000/year, declining since 2000)about 2.7 million. But in 2010 we already had 3.23 million citizens. So over the last 10 years, we grew half million by immigration.

The theoretical eligible voters I estimated is larger than the actual eligible voters as reported by CNA. Possibly because ity includes all those who have been deemed ineligible for various reasons, e.g. unregistered, lost, disqualified, etc. But admittedly the size of the discrepancy (~900,000) is a bit alarming if true, and could possibly be wrong. Nonetheless, it highlights the potential magnitude of the immigrant impact on voting trends.