I guess it can’t be helped. As long as the problem remains, it will be headline news, over and over again. In case you’re wondering what I am referring to, I’m talking about babies. Or more accurately, the lack of babies in Singapore.
In his address at the Tanjong Pagar GRC National Day Dinner, our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew urged Singaporeans to “get married and have babies.” Simply, our most senior statesman has raised the red flag. Of course, this triggers a whole new barrage of comments, opinions and suggestions in the media and online. I understand that this will also be the topic for Channel News Asia’s Singapore Talking next week. I wonder what will be discussed or raised? Would it not be the same points, reasons and excuses again? What new discoveries and revelations will there be? Truly, this baby talk is getting tiring.
Anyway, since this is the talk of the town (again), permit me my share of air-time …
Two days ago, I was approached by a friend if Serene and I would be keen to be interviewed by the press. I wonder why? – haha! This friend thought that it would be a good idea for our family to be featured that others would be inspired to have more children. Such optimism, but honestly, I think it will take more than an article with a family of nine to convince Singaporeans to have babies. With present mindsets, a picture of our family might just scare them off … for good 🙂 So, we declined the interview.
Two weeks ago, at the “Day of His Power” prayer concert organised by LoveSingapore, the time came for all to pray for families. The prayer leader led the way, praying with full conviction as his voice bellowed over the mega sound system of the Indoor Stadium, “LORD, OPEN THE WOMBS…” Indeed, for those who have been trying to conceive but can’t, this is the prayer for them. But I don’t think this addresses the right target audience. The more appropriate prayer, in my opinion, should be, “Lord, open the hearts and minds of those who refuse to have babies …” Unless and until they – Christians included – see that children are indeed blessings from the Lord, nothing is going to happen. I’ve always wondered if the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for Christians is significantly higher than that of society?
So for the next few weeks, let us brace ourselves for more media coverage on this great Singapore conundrum. Already, articles and blogposts have been circulating on Facebook, with many sharing their views and perspectives. Yet, however well presented these socio-economic papers and propositions might be, they remain Man’s attempt at solving the problem, for God is never mentioned, understandably, in our secular setting. And yet, the institution of the family is entirely God’s idea. As such, it can never be solved apart from Him and according to His ways!
Read more closely and you will discover that it’s the same blame game, … blame the government, blame the economy, blame the housing, blame the high cost, blame the education system, etc. Then, in the end, it’s the same hopeful Singaporean suggestion: that the government will do something about it. Really, if the government could manufacture babies for the nation, they would. After all, we Singaporeans expect them to do everything for us, including raise our children on our behalf. And if we are not happy about how our children turn out, at least we can blame someone else again.
Enough said. Until we stop talking and start doing, it’s going to be a very different Singapore in the years ahead. Lord, help us.