Singapore — A 16-year-old student wrote a letter to The Straits Times which has gone viral.
The secondary school student Wang Lixin wrote in her letter: “We can boost Singapore’s birth rate by making it compulsory for women to serve National Service (NS) alongside men.”
This is because “women will interact with men during national service, enabling relationships to be forged”. It implied that the relationships will lead to marriages and babies will be born.
The student used the evidence of Israel, which mandates conscription for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18 regardless of gender as long as they are Jewish or Druze and for men only if they are Circassian.
Wang noted that in Israel there are 20 births per 1,000 people for a population of around nine million, disproportionately more than Singapore, which has 8.5 births per 1,000 people for a population of 5.69 million.
“Hence, it is imperative for women to serve the country, not only to increase the size of our defence force, but also to encourage marriages to boost Singapore’s birth rate,” Wang concluded.
The article has resulted in many criticisms and debates across the web, with quite a large number of viewpoints differing from the student’s.
Many netizens are pointing out flaws in the argument, stating that since conscription for NS is for those aged between 18 and 20, it would be too young an age for citizens to form relationships that lead to marriage. They would be too young and immature to form proper relationships, especially given their lack of stability.
Others say that this suggestion is not a solution as it does not address other issues which parents face. One says that an “overworked population and rising cost of living that make it difficult to have children and take care of them financially while having a career”.s
Some also question the student’s experience with relationships, sharing their own experiences of being with people of the opposite sex and how that did not result in relationships.
However, there are some who agree with the student, stating that “Israel has been conscripting women too for decades without issues. They also happen to have the highest birth rate among developed countries, though admittedly, this is hard to define. Israel’s fraction of the population which lives under the poverty line is 25%, over twice the OECD’s average of 11-12%. On the other hand, its TFR is a steady 3, the envy of nearly every other OECD country”.
Meanwhile, there is debate over National Service in Singapore. Currently, it is compulsory only for men. However, women can volunteer through initiatives such as the SAF Volunteer Corps, Volunteer Special Constabulary, and the Civil Defence Auxilliary Unit.
Denise Teh is an intern at The Independent SG. /TISGFollow us on Social Media
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