By: Ben Matchap
Not to harp on the now famous “it takes a very small space to have sex” comment by Josephine Teo, but I think it throws the spotlight on the government’s mindset towards population growth.
Aside from providing a few incentives here and there, as well as weird cartoon advertisements about sperms and eggs on MRT stations, the efforts to boost our population does not seem to be going very well. Which means that we have to ask ourselves “why is it so?” In my opinion I think it’s about the focus, and the focus is all wrong.
Instead on focusing on just numbers, I think we need to take into account social factors. Singaporeans are not baby making factories just stubbornly refusing to produce fertilised eggs. No, we are human beings and to raise kids takes families. And families don’t just need lots of support. Perhaps our whole idea towards life needs a rethink.
Singaporeans clock in one of the longest working hours in the world. It does not make any sense when parents have to work such long hours to make ends meet, to the point they have no time to raise their kids. In the Nordic countries, they have shorter working hours and more efficiency.
Unfortunately in Singapore we have this rat race mindset. ‘Cheaper, better, and faster’ comes at the expense of the everyday working man. It should therefore come as no surprise that birth rate so pathetically low. We have not tried to build a country that promotes raising a family.
Also, our government’s models of a family is that of ‘a married man + his wife + children’. The truth however is, there are many models of family – ‘man + kids’, ‘woman + kids’, ‘2 woman + kids’…
But the support our government gives is mainly for the ‘a married man + his wife + children’ families. And they want to keep the status-quo, throwing all kinds of obstacles in the path of those that have, or want to start other types of families.
In this 21st century, aside from adoption there are other ways of making babies (such as artificial insemination, surrogacy, etc), and the government has to further liberalise access to such avenues if they are really serious about having more babies. We need to shift the focus from manufacturing babies to providing a good environment for people to start families.
In short, to have more babies Singapore must be reimagined as a less stressful and more open country.
Ben Matchap is a film student, a photographer and a vlogger. Being in the early 20s, he identifies much with the Singaporean millennials.
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