24 August 2008

Babies wanted, but only in traditional families, the traditional way

Newly announced tax exemptions, baby bonuses and extended maternity leave all reveal a reluctance to think out of the box. Is conservative morality so important that we'd rather not try our best for more babies? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

We encourage "Tradition Family Values", they always say. But what is that? Obviously, it the "Christian" way, try to speak for everybody else!

And all these new incentive are nothing more then another round of wealth distribution to all their "supporters" - NTUC Child Care, Touch group, other Christian based groups, and probably a few non-Christian group just to show that they are not bias!

Christian group do run both child care and match making services (and even sex education in school!). How convenient, match making and converting people at the same time!

Obviously the result would be questionable, but that doesn't really matter. Money already in their pocket!

More well trained child care givers? Another excuse for price increase while they will look for the cheapest worker available - probably some "Foreign Talents"!

Every incentive they give, they will take it back 10 times! Our government can only think of "Money, Money, Money"!

Anders said...

Isn't the maternity or paternity leave really a non issue when you can just offer a certain number of leave days to be shared between the parents according to their own needs. Then those who wish to keep the traditional roles can do so while others can do it differently.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that in Malaysia, singles are allowed to adopt children. As long as you have the financial means, there's no stopping singles to adopt newborns from improverished famalies. The logic of course is that poor children have an option open to a better, more secure future with financially able singles than poor famalies. This actually makes our neighbours across the causeway so much more liberal as compared to our govt over this issue...

Female hetersexual Singaporean said...

I remember a previous article of yours about an oversea orphanage with a photo of a lonely toddler hugging a soft toy.

I was thinking, why let these children remain in an institution when they can be loved and cared by willing adoptive parents, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Re the reference by Female Heterosexual, the article in question is The children we leave behind

Steven - good point! Malaysia is more liberal in many ways than just this. Take freedom of expression and assembly for example.

Wang said...

YB Sampler

Lets see what happens when a non-bumi espouses such views in Malaysia since it is so "liberal" there.


yuen said...

malaysia is more lax in applying control to various areas; it is not the same as "liberal" - liberal is a deliberate decision to be free and open

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

You may be right in some areas but there are other areas in which Malaysia is knowingly, deliberately more liberal. For example, the Mahathir govt promised that there would be no interference with the internet and they have lived up to it, while Singapore passed all sorts of laws even as we advertised a light touch policy. Another example, the Malaysian Bar Association is truly independent and outspoken and allowed to be, not like our Law Society which was neutered in the 1980s by an Act of Parliament.

daniel k said...

The most environmentally-unfriendly thing anyone can do is to have another baby. At a time when climate change should override economic concerns, I am inclined to question just what is so wise about encouraging couples to create more offsprings who will consume more, demand more, compete for already depleting natural resources.

To increase Singapore's population, I'd rather that we stop throwing money at the 'baby problem'. I see this as a dead end and we should stop banging our heads against the wall.

If I may digress a bit: As a social smoker, I resent the argument that taxpayers have to contribute to my medical fees should I contract lung cancer. By the same logic, should I then protest against having to contribute to childcare services and baby bonuses?

As an unmarried gay man, who nevertheless contribute to Singaporean society, I am disgruntled that I get no benefit from these initiatives - bigoted and ignorant discrimination notwithstanding - even as I have to work harder to cover the duties of my colleagues who go on maternity/paternity leave with the state's blessings.

As a working Singaporean citizen, I love the fact that the composition of Singaporean society is so much more varied than before. I want a cosmopolitan Singapore, not one with more made-in-Singapore babies.

Can Singapore not be made up of more immigrants like it has always done? Already, the influx of foreign labour today is turning Singapore into a more complex, more vibrant socio-cultural landscape than ever. (perhaps this really IS a renaissance?) It is true that the duration of stay for many will be transient; yet even as this is fast-becoming a fact of life in a globalised city-state, there will also be a critical mass who would want to take root and make Singapore their permanent home. Singaporean citizenship is presently still sufficiently desirable. It is our collective duty to keep making Singapore a great place to live in, the better to retain talented individuals.

Anonymous said...

Babies! The basic resource that is required to sustain an super expensive government bureaucracy that is Spore's. The problem lies with the well-paid govt ministers, their problem solving approach & methodology remains piecemeal - very conservative & as if afraid of offending someone. A piecemeal approach always ends in failure!
The structural problems that impede the fertility rate are well documented and many:- high cost of living; huge investment in bring up a child; poor daycare infrastructure; stressful educational system; crowded public transportation; rampant outbreaks of children diseases like hand, foot and mouth (HFMD); and inaccessibility of tertiary education to locals while foreigners are given unworthy scholarships.
This bloated & top heavy Spore government - their collective intellect cannot even light up a light bulb despite several of them being scholars! Like Mr Bread said, 'How about thinking beyond the paradigm?'
Spore needs to be streamlined & regenerate itself ie. instead of having 6.5 million people in an overcrowded condition, Spore needs to reduce the nation to an optimum 3 million. The volume obsessed approach adopted by the govt has to go. This has to start at the top - the govt bureaucracy has to reduce itself to govern 3 million population. MM, SM, Ministers without portfolio - all these have to go! Functioning ministers should be paid a basic salary (not the current extremely obscene one that even exceeds USA's) with a bonus if the minister meet certain objectives ie. fertility rate, GDP, etc. by a definite period {Management by Ojectives).
It is ironic in environmental consciousness that Spore being sunny for 300 days in a year, we do not take advantage of capturing the sun's energy for our usage and weaning off oil dependency. The developmental policies should also revamped by constructing housing that captures solar energy via solar cells instead of building higher and higher which fails to capture 'free' solar energy and is far dependent of fossil fuels. A 3 million optimum population should reduce the traffic and public transportation that is currently afflicting Spore. Car owners should be given an incentive to buy hybrid vehicles which is far more environmentally friendly.
The govt should look at implementing 'Singaporean 1st policy' ie. providing resources to native born Sporeans to achieve their full potential. Of course, the elitist/meritocracy policy of ancient times should be scrapped - it caused too much resentment with the common people and blew too much hot air into the heads of the 'elite' like Wee Shu-Min. If Temasek and GIC have generated so much wealth for Spore as they have claimed - a % of that wealth could be allocated into a Sporean 1st Fund to generate income streams to fund such activities.
Maternity wards & gynaecology services should be made free to Sporean parents when the female partner is confirmed pregnant. If Temasek could invest so much in ABC Learning Centre in Australia [A leading daycare operator in Australia] - perhaps, they could convince them to set up branches in Spore with pioneer status to cater for Sporean born babies! These could be fully subsidized by govt for native born Spore babies. Also, free Certificate of Entitlement could be granted to all couples who have a baby for them to buy a car to ferry the baby around thus avoiding public transportation and catching HFMD. If the couple do not wish to buy a car, they could see the COE and use the proceeds to bring up the baby.
Spore who claims to be developed nation still faces 3rd world diseases like HFMD, Chikungunya and Dengue fever. These point to an unhygenic and overcrowded environment not unlike 3rd world countries. Also, Spore claims to have leading biotechnology research centre in Buona Vista.
The educational system should be revamped drastically. Instead of streaming, final year exams and normal/express/gifted segregation, the education system should be general to all in the early years with the stress taken out of the equation. Ultimately, as the students evolved, they can be guided into the fields which are their strengths; academic (for the highly intellectual); sports (for the athletically inclined); technical (for those who are hands on); culinary (as Spore is so food obsessed); and music, arts & drama (for those who are artistic and talented). Quality instead of quantity should transcend Spore into the higher realms of society and induce many overseas Sporeans to return.
A 3 million core population of native born Sporeans living in an environmentally friendly system would be ideal to showcase an impressive societal model to the world. Of course, the political situation has to evolve - the gags & constrains of free speech has to go. The mode of government should be participative and involving to those who wish to contribute. In an internet environment, this is not unrealistic! All it needs if for the govt to take of its blinkers and ear muff to see & listen to people's aspirations.
Do I believe that this scenario would happen - No!

Note: I never mention marriage in my article as it is a outmoded institution in developed world. In Spore, approximately 20% of either sex between 35-44 remained unmarried. Marriages has stayed stagnant between 22K to 24K per year from 2002 to 2007 while the divorce rate remained at around 30% which means 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce. With 1 in 5 adults (20%) choosing singlehood and 1 in 3 marriages (30%) ending in divorce, the pool of people / couples eligible for babies in quite limited. What does it all mean? Marriage is a dying institution for procreation purposes. Obviously, making babies must arise from other alternative sources like surrogate motherhood, IVF, adoption, etc rather the marriage basis.

yuen said...

despite the supposed strong influence of anti abortion christian fundamentalists and the desire for more babies, the government has quickly shot down the suggestion, without going through a lengthy review process as they did with the sodomy legalization issue; however, the issues of providing more help to single mothers and making adoption easier, so that more pregnent women can choose to give birth instead of abortion, remain to be more seriously considered

Anonymous said...

I am lesbian, and I do want to have my own baby with my partner. But because SG will never allow it; both of us are planning to leave.

I see it as a real issue that SG wants to have their birth rates increase, but only within the limits of a "family unit". It will not happen simply by increasing the incentives.

Utimately, there is a group of people here who do want to have children badly, but are not allowed to. It's either we find some way to adopt, or the easier way is (for me personally) to leave and set up family somewhere which my partner & I can do so as one.

yuen said...

>SG will never allow it

not sure what you mean by this; it is not against the law for an unmarried woman to have a child; whether she is lesbian or not is irrelevant

however, only babies born to married citizens attract the various baby benefits; this is a deterrence, but not the same as "not allowing" lesbians to have children

Anonymous said...

Dear sir, I can understand your quest for equality for gays and lesbians but I cannot help but think the border stops at having children (whatever method or means) within same-sex marriages.

How can a young child in Singapore (a well known closed and traditional society) handle the "stigma" which you are desperately trying to erase, using your vast internet knowledge and wise writings?

Again, we are not US, we are not EU. If you want the same, then you can migrate there, leaving behind the char kueh tiao, etc.

A young child or any child, needs both a father and a mother. No matter how feminine a gay can be, or how ever manly a lesbian can be, they can never be the same or even come close to being a real father or a real mother.

Even if they can, the society (be it 10 years or 100 years) is not ready to call you your son's Mama.

A married couple (heterosexual) bringing up a straight child is already a safer bet, than a homosexual couple, bringing up any child (be the child homo or straight).
Bringing up a child is no easy task. How can one explain to him that homosexualism is normal, while the rest of the society is still not accepting?

I strongly will say this: this is a most selfish decision a gay person will make, if he/she decides to raise a young child in a same-sex marriage, just to satisfy his/her paternal/maternal calling. The child will suffer, no matter how much icing you put on your arguments.

I sympathise with your cause, but I lack the courage to say you are right, regarding raising children in a same-sex family.

I wish you the best, but I hope you be wiser than what you wrote in this article.

TAN, Switzerland
PS: I await to see if alternative comments are welcomed by your blog.

Anonymous said...

Gay males still cannot have children - maybe separating production from nurturing will work? Maybe, for a time but can this separation of functions be sustained by a rapidly evolving, technologically drive society.