Is Singapore committing suicide?

When I was in school, I distinctly remember learning that if Singapore were to survive, it has to depend on its only natural resource – people. How is it then that we have been spending the past 20-30 years committing suicide using population control?

We are now feeling the effects of the aggressive birth control policy that was implemented in Singapore last century. Economist Dr Bernardo Villegas describes it as “a contraceptive mentality that has become so ingrained in the population – especially among educated women – that it is almost impossible to reverse the country’s steep fertility decline”.

The country’s short-term solution is to open Singapore’s doors to foreign workers and encourage immigration. But we are also feeling the effects of a sudden increase in population, not from our own people, but from foreigners who come from a totally different background and culture. Within the span of a couple of years, our trains and buses have become so packed that we sometimes have to wait for three trains before we can get on board… on a Sunday afternoon.

The trouble with us is that we don’t see migrants as people. We see them as less than people, which is why we turn a blind eye to the conditions that they are forced to live with. We have more than 20 people sharing one rented house. We have employers ferrying migrant workers in overcrowded lorries and pick-ups. We have Singaporeans making their domestic workers work for 29 days, and giving them only one day off a month. These are conditions which we would consider inhumane were any Singaporean made to work like that, but we simply look the other way when we see migrants working like this. Why?

I would point us back to the birth control policies that started last century – when we separated life from the sexual act. In doing so, we have devalued the value of the human person.

If we can prevent the birth of a child through contraception or abortion because the child cannot defend itself, then we can certainly do the same to migrants who do not have a voice in Singapore. We can certainly do the same to the elderly, the mentally ill, and those who fall through the cracks of an otherwise efficient society. We kill them physically and socially because we do not see these people as valuable, but rather as burdens.

Another aspect of the suicide that Singapore is committing is a frequent complaint of the man on the street – the rising cost of living. That is one of the reasons why we choose not to have more children. The trouble with this reasoning is that it is backwards. The reason why our cost of living is high is because we do not have more children. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But it’s true.

The reason why it’s true is because a couple that has fewer children has more spending power than a couple with more children. A couple with more children will spend more money on the children, and household essentials – food, education, etc. A couple with fewer children has more money to spend on other luxury items and entertainment.

I’m no economist, but I’ll wager that if a foreign country wants to make money out of Singaporeans, particular in the area of luxury items and entertainment, then that foreign country will do what it can to get Singaporeans to have fewer children. Consider which countries have very good relations with Singapore particularly in areas of entertainment, and you will see the picture. If not, The Kissinger Report can help us to see the bigger picture.

Our ever-changing rules concerning the CPF are caused by our government’s short-term solutions on addressing the ageing population. The reason why we have an ageing population to begin with is simply because since the 1980s, our fertility has been below replacement rate, which means fewer young working Singaporeans providing for a larger proportion of elderly Singaporeans.

While I applaud our government’s good intentions, I worry for the future of Singapore, because short-term solutions such as these cause greater problems in the long-term, just as how population control was a short-term solution that resulted in many of the problems we are facing today. Bringing in foreign talent seemed like a good idea a few years ago, but did any of us prepare for the problems we are now facing?

Controlling population growth to curb poverty was also a good idea back then, and Singapore has done extremely well economically. But often I wonder: have we sold our own people for money? Have we sacrificed (and are still sacrificing) our only natural resource for economic prosperity? After all, we all know of fellow Singaporeans who choose not to have children because we see children as economic burdens.

However, Singapore’s problems are Singapore’s own. We do not want to put the blame on other countries, because other countries are not going to be greatly affected by Singapore’s ups and downs. We are the ones that are going to suffer when we have problems, so it is up to us to address those problems ourselves.

I also do not believe that our government caused this problem, because to do that would necessarily imply that only the government can get us out of it. Rather, I think all Singaporeans have had a part to play in allowing a contraceptive mentality to fill our lives and our society. Even if we do not practise contraception, we still play a part by remaining silent on its detrimental effects. Who has the power then to change this?

You do. We, the citizens of Singapore, hold in our hands (and our loins) the power to change Singapore’s future, by changing the way we look at a person’s value. Many of our current problems come back to this. We no longer value Singapore’s only and most important resource – people. And unless this changes, Singapore will continue to commit suicide.

I love my country, and I don’t want to see it commit suicide. It all comes back to how we treat that most important activity that produces Singapore’s only natural resource – sex.

Yes, it is true that abortion rates have fallen in recent years, but the Singaporean population has not been rising proportionally, has it? I guarantee you that this is because contraception rates have soared. In the words of a sexuality education speaker that I respect, “Singapore’s fertility rate is low not because we are having less sex but rather because we are having too much contraceptive sex.”

If you love your country and don’t want to see into spiral downwards, you have to make a decision today. Which is more valuable: money or people? In the same way, our leaders need to do some soul-searching and ask themselves this question. Which is more important for Singapore: its money or its life?

Then act on that decision from today. Here are some practical ways in which we can start valuing people:

1. Say ‘thank you’ with a smile to the migrant worker who clears your table at the food court.

2. Give your maid a day off every week.

3. Visit an elderly or mentally ill person at least once a month and spend at least half an hour listening to him or her.

4. Throw away all the suicide tools you have, such as condoms and oral contraceptives.

5. Learn and practice Natural Family Planning. You don’t have to be Catholic to practise NFP.

6. Unless there is a grave reason to not have another child, open your doors to welcoming more children in the family.

7. Live a simpler lifestyle and give the money saved to a needy person you know.

8. Learn about the horror of abortion, and the truth about condoms and contraception.

9. Read The Kissinger Report and find out why population control is a bad idea, especially for a country like Singapore whose only natural resource is Singaporeans. (But don’t blame another country for our problems.)

10. Share this article with your friends who love Singapore.

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