Potential General Election (GE) candidate Tan Kin Lian has suggested that Singapore’s low birth rate could improve if more women opted to stop working and stay home after marriage to produce and care for their children.
71-year-old Mr Tan Kin Lian is a businessman, social activist, and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NTUC Income. In the 2011 Presidential Election, Mr Tan ran for President and got the lowest votes of all the candidates, with only 4.9 per cent of votes. For failing to achieve at least 12.5 per cent of votes, Mr Tan lost his S$48,000 deposit.
In March this year, Mr Tan threw his hat into the ring to contest the next GE. On March 31, he wrote on Facebook, “If you want me to contest in the general election, give a Like and Share. Let us make it to 1,000 Likes.”
His post garnered over 1,000 likes in just over a week, which prompted Mr Tan to respond saying, “HURRAH. Finally, after 9 days, I have reach (sic) the target of 1,000 Likes. Yes, I intend to contest the next general election. I shall be putting up some videos to give my views. Thank you for your support.”
It is unclear which vehicle Mr Tan will use for contesting the next General Election, but he has been spotted in the delegation of the People’s Power Party led by Mr Goh Meng Seng.
Days later, however, Mr Tan said that he will only be contesting the GE if other like-minded people join him to achieve a change in Government. Revealing that he will be measuring the commitment of these like-minded folks through a series of “tests” he will put out in the coming days, he warned:
“If I do not see enough of them coming forward, I will change my mind – and not stand for election. I do not owe any duty to anyone to carry out my “promise” to stand for election.”
In one his more recent Facebook posts published on Wednesday (17 July), Mr Tan suggested that Singapore’s birth rate could improve if women voluntarily stay home and stop working after marriage.
Pointing to a similar policy that is encouraged in China, he wrote: “China is addressing the problem of low birth rate. It is encouraging women to stay at home and produce children. It seems to be working – as the women participation rate in the workforce dropped from 75% to 61%.”
Asserting that this is “not gender discrimination” and that this simply “recognizes that the best role for women is at home,” Mr Tan said that his family followed this approach and that his wife decided to do this after they got married:
“My family believed this approach. My wife did not work after we got married. She did an excellent job to raise three children. She is now helping to look after 4 grandchildren. There is no point for her to be stressed out in the office!”
He added that his good friend, a CEO of a large company, agrees with this stance and that his wife also stopped working to look after their three children. His friend apparently told him that “this is meaningful for the family and for her.”
Asserting that he understands many women prefer to work and this is their choice, Mr Tan said that he still hopes that “it is possible for more women to opt to stop working.”
He said that the Government and Singapore society must ensure that it is possible for the family to rely on one income, instead of ‘forcing’ women to work “just to supplement the family income.”