By Tan Jee Say
It is the time of the year again when we reflect on ourselves and think sweet thoughts of our loved ones. For an increasing number of Singaporean families, loved ones are overseas working, studying or living out their retirement years. Wherever they are, they will be thinking of home. A number of them do more than just thinking.
Last month, I met more than a dozen Singaporeans currently studying in Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was there on my Harvard Fellowship. They were an earnest lot, engaging me intensely on events back home. A few of them even started a Singapore Policy Forum page on Facebook to collect and publish academic papers on Singapore policy from universities worldwide. They “hope to contribute to the conversation that’s been building up in Singapore over the last few years.” I am glad they have taken this initiative. It is through forum discussions like these that we can move forward together as a nation that values diversity in views and social make-up. I wish them success.
Joy of having babies deprived
The latest article in the forum examines why the policy to raise fertility has failed after 20-30 years of campaign incentives. (Here’s the link https://www.facebook.com/SingaporePolicyJournal). The failure of PAP government is so stark and unimaginable that even after 20-30 years of working at it, not only has it not succeeded in reversing the declining fertility rate but instead has made it much worse by depressing it further to 1.2, among the lowest in developed countries. PAP’s problem lies in taking a narrow view of the costs of having a baby, confining them mainly to delivery and the first few years of raising a child.
We at SingFirst take a holistic approach and tackle costs from delivery to nurturing (childcare allowances, heavily subsidised childcare), schooling (free education up to university), working (priority for Singaporeans, unemployment insurance/benefits), housing (truly affordable), healthcare (heavily subsidised medical insurance) and retirement (old-age pension in addition to personal CPF savings). We believe our holistic approach will enhance Singaporeans’ confidence in having more children as they look forward to a future of A Fair Society with Strong Families and an Esteemed People. Details of our proposal will be released in the coming months.
Despair no more, Vote in Hope
In the past few decades, increasing numbers of Singaporeans have gone abroad to study, work and live, but never to return. They have done so mainly out of despair. They have turned their backs on a stressful education system, shrinking career advancement because of a liberal immigration policy, rising costs of living particularly in housing and an uncertain future that does not inspire confidence or esteem. Parents understand the plight of their children but are saddened that their loved ones are not by their side in their twilight years. And Christmas is a heart-breaking time for these families. Our thoughts are with them. Despair no more. Support a party that drives away this despair and brings in hope for A Fair Society, Strong Families and Esteemed People.
Usher in a brighter Christmas in the years ahead.