"You need a very small space to have sex", Josephine Teo shoots down complaints from young people

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“Should we apply for HDB?” (instead of “Would you marry me?”) would be how many young Singaporean men may propose to their girlfriends. Statistics do show that more couples are applying for a flat together before walking down the aisle.

Hoping that this Singaporean trend will translate into more babies for SIngapore, the HDB introduced the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) in 2013. The scheme gives priority allocation for new HDB flats to first-timer married couples with a citizen child below the age of 16 (including those expecting a child), by setting aside a proportion of flats for them, to better meet their housing needs.

Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo in responding to complaints that such flats do not get allocated fast enough for couples to have babies said, “You need a very small space to have sex.”

Ms Teo who oversees the National Population and Talent Division referred to how couples in Europe and the Nordic countries and compared their attitude to Singaporeans.

“In our case, man meets woman, man falls in love with woman, man proposes to woman, they then plan the wedding and do the house. In France, in the UK, in the Nordic countries, man meets woman, tonight they can make a baby already. They love each other. Both of them partly have their own family, so it is a matter of living in yours or living in mine, and they also don’t have to worry about marriage – that comes later.”

It is unclear if she was suggesting that couples should have children before they get married. But she seemed more worried if people may exploit the HDB scheme for financial gains.

“What if they can’t conceive? Take back the flat from them? How do you know they really tried to conceive? Can we check whether they use contraceptives? Cannot, right?

You never really know that you’re not fertile until you try. Unfortunately, it is one of those things. There is no fertility indicator. As a woman you will know, if you have regular menstruation, okay, (there is a) likelihood. But maybe you have a major cyst and how would you know until you attempt to conceive, only to realise that you can’t?”

Ms Teo also suggested that young people who do not look for love early are not being good, doing their part for society.

“When I meet young people and ask if they go and look for upgrading opportunities, they said ‘yes’. I said, ‘What about love? Do you go and look for love?’ They said ‘no’. I said, ‘Why not?’ They said, ‘If it happens, it happens’. I said, ‘You don’t think that upgrading and a good job, if it happens it happens, right? So why is it that you would apply that thinking to your career and your own education, but you don’t apply it to your personal life?’

In this day and age, it is not possible for us to say that you are somehow bad, you are not doing your part for society. No, there are many reasons why people remain single. Sometimes, (for) very good reasons. Why should we pass judgment on them?”