As Singapore is still in a celebrative mood on our 47th National Day, ex-Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew threw in a dampener last Saturday as he spoke to his constituents at Tg Pagar GRC NDP dinner celebration by declaring that if Singaporeans don’t reproduce sufficiently, we will be taken over by foreigners.
“”Do we want to replace ourselves or do we want to shrink and get older and be replaced by migrants and work permit holders? That’s the simple question,” he said.
I am most displeased by his threat and insensitive remark.
I must point out that the statesman is also the one who laid down the stop-at-two family campaign almost two decades ago, when he was prime minister, causing us to fall into the current population growth mayhew.
Moreover, he merely presented a problem without providing any viable solutions other than the usual method of bringing in hundreds of thousands of foreigners to resolve the issue – which probably is their only solution so far.
Mr Lee also said the Chinese reproduction rate was at 1.08, Indians at 1.09 and Malays at 1.64.
Currently, there are close to a million PRC Chinese holding up the majority population for the Chinese community which is fast shrinking due to the population decline.
Mr Lee’s remark should not be taken lightly as even though he is not in the limelight lately, his words carried much weight and he could even act as the mouthpiece for the government when it comes to implementing difficult controversial decision.
Besides the contentious casino issue, the conversion of foreigners as new citizens should be the next national agenda that grapples the whole country and ground reaction suggested that it could even evolve into a serious divisive new citizen versus native citizen situation.
Nevertheless, it is somewhat puzzling why the government did not relent from bringing in more foreigners as voters have called this their number one grouse and turned against the ruling party by swinging as many as 120, 000 votes during last year General Election.
Netizens have long suspected that the primary aim of the government is to convert at least 100, 000 new citizens before the next election in 2016 as most of them will vote for the ruling party out of loyalty and respect.
It makes sense as it is obvious that the ruling party is losing popularity and if they don’t take serious measure to arrest the rot, they may even be voted out of power in two elections’ time.
Moreover, if not for the massive loyal vote of the 130,000-strong new citizens during last year GE, the majoirty vote for the ruling party may be significantly lower.
Seeing how the PAP has relentlessly persecuted and sued opposition political members in the past, it is not surprising that they have to resort to converting new citizens to gain votes in desperation.
Most of the Generation Y youth have voiced out against the reluctance of the ruling party to provide more political space to the population and even loyal PAP baby boomer supporters have registered their displeasure especially on the issue of foreigner influx.
On the issue of population growth, many critics have complained that the government has been pushing the buck back to the population, saying that if they don’t marry and reproduce enough, the government will have no choice but to bring in migrants from abroad to solve the problem.
Mr Lee further added: “Our educated men and women must decide whether to replace themselves in the next generation. At the moment, 31 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men are opting out, not leaving a next generation.”
As usual, the government has not being providing any solutions to a grave problem that has plagued us for the past decade since ex-PM Mr Lee Chok Tong was in power.
Apparently, they do not know why our singles are not dating, why single males are afraid to commit to a relationship because they lack the finances due to the failure to provide minimum-wage legislation and why married people are not reproducing enough as they spent more time at work than at home because the Employment Act does not protect them from being exploited at work.
It shows a drastic lack in problem-solving skills within our cabinet – which incdentally has being the main grouse of most employers for the general working population.
For a cabinet that boosts of the highest paying ministers in the world consisting of our best scholarly material, it has came very short on providing tangible ideas to resolve a serious problem.
Besides, upping the baby bonus abit, the government has not being very pro-active in addressing the main reasons that deter many married people from reproducing enough or even tied the knot.
They have merely tried to pass the buck to a population that is beseiged by job insecurity due to the influx of cheaper foreign workers, lack of reasonable wages due to improper labour legislation and unreasonable work conditions of many companies here.
Many pregnant women have written in to the press stating that they were let off when their bosses knew that they could not work for four months due to their maternity leave.
Many culprits were merely let off with a simple written warning from MOM.
Mr Lee may also need to understand that many of our well educated PMETs have to work their guts out at work due to a lack of legislation which prohibits daily over time.
I knew of many women PMETs working beyond 9pm almost on a daily basis – disrupting their family time and personal health.
Our working Chinese women could only give birth to one or at most two children as they want to spend adequate time with them after work.
The lack of a flexi-work schedule means that either our women work full time or not at all and the latter option is almost non-existing as most households need two incomes now in order to survive.
Our unnecessarily stressful educational system is also a deterrance as many families could barely cope with the school work load with one kid let alone having more.
Our single males face a more serious problem of not wanting to commit to a relationship as most employment now is contractual in nature and therefore lack any job security – elements that are essential for a couple to settle down.
The pathetic pay structure is also another issue that our MOM can try to tackle when they review the Employment Act end of the year.
When you don’t earn enough as a local graduate, you simply stay at home and let the well-paid foreigners woo our local gals to the altar.
I have seen too many young men who simply can’t date as they barely can survive on their own based on their earned pathetic wages.
Long gone are the days when a couple could simply tie the knot with less than $3000/month in total take-home pay – not with a huge $400,000 BTO HDB loan hanging around your neck.
Most will prefer to have a combined take-home income of $5000 before taking the plunge together.
I remembered marring my wife at age 32 years old drawing only $2500/month gross and we managed to book a HDB BTO executive flat as it only costs $143,000.
She earned barely $2000 then.
My monthly CPF repayment is only $400 and we could service the loan based on one income.
A executive HDB BTO flat costs three times that amount now and more seriously our pay has hardly increase much after two decades.
More can be done to reduce the cost of owing a new BTO flat for young couples keen on tying the knot.
The gender mismatch is also evidential here as more women seek after higher education whereas less men could manage the rigour of tertiary education.
Many women thus earn a much better income than our men creating a situation whereby neither gender is keen to pursue a love relationship with one another due to the mismatch.
More men are now marrying foreigners from third world countries creating a serious situation whereby many of our well educated women are staying single – sometimes not out of choice.
The high divorce rate is also worrying as children of single-parent families may fear tying the knot altogether due to the bad experience of growing up in a turbulent family setting – further exuberating the problem.
The stressful work culture, high living cost and gender conflict are main contributing factors for the ever-rising divorce rate in Singapore.
Hopefully, the new minister Mr Chan Chun Sing for Ministry of Social and Family development (MSF) will take a serious look into the situation and more importantly come up with some solutions.
To Mr Lee Kuan Yew – please don’t tell us the problem, most of us already know that we have a serious population growth issue, what we need is for the government to come up with viable solutions.
The solution to bring in new immigrants and convert them into citizens ought to be the last option the government should take due to it’s inherent adverse consequences and more significantly most Singaporeans don’t like threats.
And speaking as a Singaporean, I am sure that many of us don’t like the idea of being sold out to foreigners.
Most of us also know the power of our vote now…
Written by: Gilbert Goh