16 March 2007

Will ours be an overcrowded city?

Many people are concerned about overcrowding should Singapore's population hit 6.5 million. Should they be? What can be done to mitigate any reduction in the quality of life? Full essay.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

1)if they can't( not wont) stop at 4.5m, what makes you think they can at 6.5m when the time comes?
2)over reliant on foreign entities for anything will create great risks for many average citizens if we are going to ride the fickle economy. just because some will fair well, it is still irresponsible considering many will not be equided to deal with the kind of problems generated.
3)for the mobile generation, why do they need to subject themselves to definite space constrain and inherited problems that comes with such a society when there are no such problems in other countries blessed with ample land, resouces ,tremendous potential and even kinder to your soul and future generations? because they believe in stacked cubicles, long queue to use the restrooms and naturally enjoy constant changes to the environment and economic instability?

i think is a mindgame we best not win otherwise, we may end up retaining naivette as our core subjects to the detriment of future generation.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is 268 sq miles, size-wise.
With 6.5 million people,

there will be 24,250 persons per sq mile.
1 sq mile is 27 million feet.

I personally don't think even the government knows when 'enough is enough'?

I hope they factor in the ability to sustain the Singapore economy with this growing trend of humans.

I think the way the authorities can justify this is to be able to counter negative growth, by stating that the Singapore Economy grew by 'xxx amt'.

WL said...

I do not doubt Singapore can build more housing and roads etc to accomodate a larger population. The question is at what cost?

Anonymous said...

The costs of building housing, etc,/- that will go to the FTs, who's main contribution is CHEAP LABOR.
Entertainment?- well, families can hang out at shopping malls, for the free air-cons, n eat at the food malls.
'Entertainment' is for the wealthy with disposal income.
I think living quarters will be smaller to accomdate the growing population of FTs. You know the govt is not happy with the Singaporeans' birthrate growth. Who can blame the average Singaporean? It is costly to survive, and even more costlier to have a family.
The old HDB flats down by Clementi used to have 5 to 7 people living in them, what a 800 sq ft flat?
Just have that level of people increase up?
I just don't see any other choice.
And we are not factoring in the 'crime rate' factor, the level of unemployment, as it is, the Singapore men who are 'reservists' are having a challenging time finding jobs, coz of their interruptions, where the FTs don't have that problem.
The authorities are, again, looking at the 'numbers game' here, at the expense of their own people.

Anonymous said...

We still have lots of unfilled HDB. we still have lots of poorly used industrial land. we still have lots of poorly planned infrastructure and transport problems. 50% more people may increase our problems in some areas by 10 times or 100 times. Other areas may not be strained at all.

Should sg's economy be more of the same or more of different things? One looks at linear projections the other at new dimensions. Only new policies and ideas can take us to new dimensions. more of the same at 50% more people is just some lazy policy. its not the numbers, its the ideas. those gahmen planners have got 1 track minds

recruit ong said...

I am concerned about the impact on the environment. More people means more stress on the eco system, waste management, pollution, conservation, and competition between the tangible (economic benefits) vs the non-tangible (clean and green, heritage, conservation of forests, land etc). The non-tangible is not easily measured and most people will overlook them.

Anonymous said...

And Lim makes no mention of the fact that he's complaining (a Singaporean's birthright I guess) about overcrowding at Suntec City on the weekend of the IT show which traditionally draws the biggest crowds of the year. Check out any shopping centre that's more than a year old and you'll find them fairly desolate on most weekends.

Robert L said...

An excellent article by YB, as usual.

YB said: "In fact, seeing the traffic jams on many roads, we may already be approaching the limit as to the number of cars our 2-dimensional space can support."

I will confine my comments to only this one issue, the road system, where I see such a simple solution to the problem. Two words - Lim Teck Kim Road / Bernam Street. (Okay, so I can't count.)

I passed there recently, they're at Tanjong Pagar area, and was agast to see that those 3-lanes one-way streets were reduced to single-lane by inconsiderate parking on both sides of the road. How often do you see this in Singapore?

Or something similar - one side of the road parked with cars, a taxi stopping at the second lane - reducing a 3-lane carriageway to single-lane, albeit for a minute or two? Or a car or lorry stopped at the side of the road, forcing a large bus to squeeze into the middle lane?

I daresay with the exception of all expressways and semi-expressways, 90% of all roads in Singapore are in this kind of situation. Of course I'm talking about peak hours, as non-peak hours are not part of our discussions.

Free up our existing roads of all these obstructions on both sides of the roads, and we instantly more than double our existing capacity. WITHOUT HAVING TO SPEND A SINGLE CENT, I might add!

It's very easy to do this, over the long term. Simply require all buildings to have their own carpark and stopping bays for taxis, vans and buses. It is entirely appropriate for building owners to pay instead of letting these services block up the public roads and making taxpayers foot the bill for 3-lane roads which effectively function as single-lane at present.

[Maybe the afore-mentioned streets could present a subject for one of YB's interesting photo-essay.]

Now, I understand most people will say - other cities are also like that, what... But why can't Singapore do a world's first? After all, our CBD/RZ was a world's first, ainit?

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Another big source of road congestion are the pedestrians, not the vehicles. Separate out the pedestrians to the upper levels or basement, and we'll have travelling time cut by half. All Singaporeans love air-con - if all the buildings at Orchard Rd were linked by air-con passages on the upper levels or basement, it would make pedestrians very happy indeed. And cars will breeze through Orchard Rd easily.

It's not that our roads capacity is not enough, the problem is the obstructions of our present roads by stopped vehicles and by pedestrians. If we clear away these obstructions, if we can reclaim the capacity of the roads, then our present road system can accomodate double the present population, that means 9 million!!!

And instead of a loss in the quality of life, we'll even have a gain in the quality of life - as in air-con comfort crossing from building to building, and in zero-accident rate for pedestrians.

Robert L

The Collective said...

I work in the frontline. I observe how rigorous our government convert foreigners to Singaporeans.

It's been ongoing for many years. Eventually now, they confess openly the real purpose to increase population.

"foreign talents" is merely a pretext to this charade. Foreigners from all walks (low, middle & high) flow in to annoyingly occupy jobs, overcrowd our public transports & streets.

Meanshile, our low & middle income Singaporeans continue to suffer with unemployment & unreasonable price hikes.

What goes up must come down. The government continue to demonstrate a self-defeating behavior. They do not show us respect. So why should we?

Time will tell when some true Singaporeans rise from nowhere. By that time, it may be too late of an oversight.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

To Collective, 22 March, 05:05h

Here's a tip: You'll need to move away from generalities to specifics if you want your comment to be impactful.

Anonymous said...

I think whether one thinks a place is crowded or not depends on one's sense of personal space. It's well documented in organisational studies that some cultures are comfortable with closer personal spaces and some prefer more space. For the new work permit and EP holders and PRs from China and India, 6.5 million might actually be a very comfortable number.

Having said that, I would like to highlight that while Singapore is not yet as packed as some of metropolises of the world like New York, London, Shanghai or Tokyo (the cities we want to compare with), what is innately different about Singapore is we are an island city-state, connected to Malaysia by two bridges with immigration formalities.

Whereas for example in New York, the population would certainly bulge during the day but come night, the working population will filter into Queens, Brooklyn Staten Island or New Jersey. I think even for Monaco, the many foreign workers serving the rich residents living there would return to contiguous France or even nearby Italy. The same could also be said for London where the Underground moves the working masses to satellite towns after work and brings in a different group, the revellers, at night.

What I'm trying to say here is that from the individual perspective of an average Singapore resident, Singapore can become very crowded round the clock with 6.5 million people. There will be no respite. It becomes a 24/7 thing that one must either truly like or at least become conditioned to.

That is, unless one can afford to live in one of the usual leafy sanctuaries like Holland Road, Bukit Timah or Tanglin.

Anonymous said...

This can't go on much further for Singapore. There is only so much land available.

However, there is a solution, and it has long been predicted that Singapore would become an adjunct of Johor, just as Shenzhen and Guandong province have become adjuncts of Hong Kong.

1. There is a vast, underutilised asset running through the spine of Singapore. The only problem is that it belongs to Malaysia. I refer of course to the KTMB Mainline to Johor Bahru and beyond.

2. Malaysia and Singapore need to develop this together. It need not be a question of national rivalries. Singapore have consistently refused to allow KTM Berhad to develop this by installing Double track and electrification, for the pathetic reason that "Overhead catenary is unsightly". A railway, giving a through time of Tanjong Pagar-Woodlands-Johor Bahru-Kempas Baru time of 30 minutes already exists. Diesel Multiple Units can already be purchased from Thailand to start up and finance this for NEXT TO NOTHING. The congestion on the Causeway would be avoided. A better travel time, with an hourly rail service could EASILY be achieved. Unfortunately, do you really see SMRT Transit or SBS Transit negotiating with KTMB to do this, and actually upgrade the tracks to a proper, modern 120kph standard fit for modern commuter trains?

Please forgive me for saying this, but the only reason that this is not being done is pure utter Kiasism, on both sides of that causeway.

Its down to pure spite that a huge land resource worth BILLIONS lies uncovered in Tanjong Pagar, when a 50 Floor office complex, the equal of KL Sentral could be build.

3. Malaysia's oil WILL run out in 10 to 15 years, at which point it becomes a net importer.

4. Singapores HUGE wealth can end up being used to buy Malaysian land in Johor. Its already happening. Singapore citizens are buying Malaysian land in Southern Johor, in Melaka, and in Kuala Lumpur, in the natural counterpart island of Singapore, Penang, where the majority have Hokkien ancestry.

5. An Alaska, or Louisiana style purchase of land will have to be done in order for Singapore to expand futher. But, again, Malaysia kicked out Singapore in 1965, and the loss of land by either party is a loss of face.

6. To the South, lies the Riau archipelago. While this has been part of Indonesia, again, like Johor, it lies within Singapores sphere of influence and economic power. Indonesia is a poor country.

7. There is only so much land reclamation and building tall that can be done.

Singapore can succeed. Making it more crowded will only make life more unpleasant, expensive, over-regulated and stressed for those in it. Its experience of good Governance, provision of world class services can continue. The key is no longer building upwards, its now about building outwards.

D Curran
KL, Malaysia, originally Ireland