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PAP says Chee Soon Juan should admit SDP campaign is based on false claim

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The ruling party said the honourable thing for SDP chief Chee Soon Juan to do would have been to admit that his party's campaign was based on a falsehood, withdraw it, and apologise to Singaporeans for misleading them.

[SINGAPORE] The People's Action Party (PAP) on Thursday night said the election campaign of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) is pointless now that a key plank of its campaign has been proven false.

The "No to 10 million population", which is part of the SDP's Four Yes, One No campaign slogan for the General Election, is based on a false claim that the government plans to raise the country's population to 10 million, the PAP noted.

The ruling party said the honourable thing for SDP chief Chee Soon Juan to do would have been to admit that his party's campaign was based on a falsehood, withdraw it, and apologise to Singaporeans for misleading them.

"But that would have been out of character," the PAP said.

"Instead, Dr Chee further twists the facts. He now claims the SDP has 'achieved victory' by extracting a promise from the PAP that it had no intention to increase the population to 10 million," it added.

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The PAP statement came hours after the SDP said that Dr Chee had "successfully extracted an assurance from the PAP that it has no intention of increasing the population to 6.9 or 10 million".

The SDP had claimed the PAP wished to jack up the population to 10 million by bringing in more foreigners, a charge Dr Chee repeated three times during a televised debate on Channel 5 on Wednesday.

Dr Chee claimed that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had in an interview "toy(ed) with the idea of bringing our population up to 10 million", the PAP noted.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, representing the PAP, refuted him each time, referring Dr Chee to a statement the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) issued earlier in the day.

The NPTD also stated categorically that the Government "has not proposed, planned nor targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million".

Dr Balakrishnan also stated for the record that Singapore "will never have 10 million".

And Dr Balakrishnan asked Dr Chee not to repeat the false statement.

"But Dr Chee doubled down on this falsehood. After the debate, he published it again, this time in a Facebook post linking to a Straits Times report of a dialogue that DPM Heng had with NTU students in March last year," the PAP said.

Mr Heng himself refuted Dr Chee's false statement in a Facebook post earlier on Thursday, and released the video clip of what he had said at Nanyang Technological University.

Mr Heng referred to former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who had publicly said Singapore should go for a higher population number. Mr Heng also said the population number is not just about the physical space but also the social space, and sense of togetherness.

The PAP said: "Dr Chee first conjures a bogey out of thin air to befuddle, frighten and divide Singaporeans. When it is pointed out to him the bogey doesn't exist, he claims someone else had 'toyed' with the idea first.

"And when it is shown conclusively that someone else had done no such thing, he waves his arms triumphantly in the air, proclaiming, 'see, I slayed the bogey'."

Added the PAP: "Dr Chee has staged this drama many times before, going back to 1996 when he refused to apologise for his use of wrong data on healthcare subsides at a Parliamentary Select Committee.

"'Reputation is temporary; character is permanent,' Dr Chee said in 2015. One cannot agree more.

"A leopard does not change its spots. The new Dr Chee - of which there have been many - is still the old Dr Chee," it added.

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