Singapore dating scene: a different sort of ‘reproductive health’

Everyone is busy today celebrating the enactment of the Philippines’ landmark population control law — Republic Act 10354 or the “Reproductive Health” Law. Finally we can see a future where the country’s meager economic output need be shared by (hopefully) a shrinking pool of people. But just a few hundred miles away in the tony land of Singapore, the problem is a bit different. The little city-state has too few people to enjoy its vast wealth.

The solution? Get more Singaporeans to have babies.

Singapore’s Social Development Network (SDN) is a government agency that was set up in 1984 to do just that — encourage people in one of the world’s most successful societies to breed.

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Singapore seems to be succeeding at most things, except mating. For more than 25 years, the Singaporean government has tried to step in to get couples together to overturn the country’s record-low fertility rates. Despite a slew of organized dances, wine tastings, and cruises, according to The New York Times, they have been some of the country’s least successful social engineering programs.

This summer, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew spoke publicly to emphasize again the urgent need for Singaporeans to have babies, warning that the country will “fold up” if couples continue to opt out of being parents. According to his statement, 31 percent of women and 41 percent of men are not having children.

[Photo courtesy CNN Travel.]

I find it quite ironic that tiny Singapore struggles with such a First World problem as a shrinking population while just a three-hour flight away looms the Philippines and its 100-million strong rapidly-multiplying population. I’m not too familiar with Singaporean immigration law so I do wonder, given what seem to be complementary challenges, if Singaporeans would be willing to tap the Philippines’ vast pool of hopelessly romantic young men and women.

Personally, I don’t think I’d like to date men from a society that requires government agencies to coach them on how to romance the ladies. But that’s just me of course. I don’t think I’m representative of the larger demographic of Filipino women angling for a happy foreign ending to their less option-rich bachelorette days.

Sometimes I do wonder if more choices does actually make one happier. Depends of course on how one defines happiness. For Singaporeans, it seems happiness is getting what you want: the affluent single life that extends well into one’s 30s. For the average Filipino happiness necessarily lies at the end of the small handful of paths he or she is able to take. Perhaps happiness is simpler for Filipinos — wanting what one gets.

17 Replies to “Singapore dating scene: a different sort of ‘reproductive health’”

  1. You wouldn’t really love marrying a Singaporean even if such problems doesn’t exists, and even if they are a First World nation….

    1. Yes, their society has taken our idea of reproductive health to an unhealthier extreme (and I’m saying this because our RH program sucks so much), so they aren’t the natural romancing types.

  2. I am totally not familair with how the Singaporean society thinks about their own “problem” but what it seems is that they (the society) will let themselves not be dictated by what a government official tells them (to do) nor by their religious leaders nor by their own culture. Because Singapore does not have one predominant religion, the influence of a religion is far less in Singapore compared to the Philippines.

    If I am correct Singapore has more religions than the Philippines; In Singapore there is more outside influence because of influx of foreigners; the Singaporeans are richer so they can travel (to foreign countries) more.

    I do think the Singaporean society is (more) heterogenic while the Philipine society is (more) homogenic and totally dependent on their own in-group. The Singaporean individual is (more) independent while the Philippine “individuel” is totally dependent.

  3. In Singapore though, if you’re not Chinese, you’re considered as second-class. Malays and Indians are marginalized. It’s the opposite in Malaysia wherein Malays are at the top of the pecking order. Ethnically, Filipinos are Malayan. Economic values appear to outweigh family values. The current generation of Singaporeans is living off the gains of its parents and grandparents. Living longer with more time for leisure has resulted in something like an extended young adulthood. As they say, 30 is the new 20. Instead of planning for a family, those well off are buying “toys.” Hence, games now cater to those in their 20s and beyond.

  4. This shows that having jobs, having something to do, and not just money, is the best contraceptive. They don’t have time to have sex because they have something better to do. Which I would agree with. Those who say “go to the brothel instead of the surf shop” are mindless barbarians and unethical ignoramuses.

    In the Philippines, people spend their remittances on temporary sinful joys. Things that don’t benefit for the long term. Or things that don’t benefit at all. Singaporeans know better.

    Another is the culture. A big difference on emotionalism, based on the recent survey. Singapore is the most stoic country, while the Philippines is the most emotional country. Personally, I prefer Singapore’s attitude, since emotionalistic behavior is more destructive, the results of which are obvious in our country.

    Perhaps Singapore’s culture got too busy. But heck, they’re still doing a lot better than we are.

    1. @ChinoF,

      So what you are saying here – implicitly – is that each and every male and female Singaporean denies his/her own libido? Doesnt sound very human like.

      Furthermore, I think you should start to let go of the idea that is so predominant in the Philippines that sex should only be for procreation.
      I am sure that Singaporeans have more sex than you and I may think but it will not lead to pregnancies as often as it leads in your country.
      Wise and rational people will use contraceptives and they will enjoy sex far more than (most) people do in the Philippines. It is called “making love” not “making babies”.

      1. Yes, I’m certain Philippine society generally believes sex is only for procreation. If one thinks it’s for pleasure, that person is branded as sinful or evil. Much a Catholic Church influence, I’d agree. But Protestants believe the Bible has acknowledged sex as for pleasure, and that procreation is only secondary.

        1. @ChinoF,

          “Yes, I’m certain Philippine society generally believes sex is only for procreation. If one thinks it’s for pleasure, that person is branded as sinful or evil. Much a Catholic Church influence, I’d agree.”

          Its so remarkable that catholics (male and female) are able to deny (and completely shut down) their libido and erogene zones!!! They really must be robots (or Pavlov dogs). Really scary and eerie and so unhuman like.

          “But protestants believe the bible has acknowledged sex as for pleasure and that procreation is only secondary.”

          Exactly my kind of thinking. Let the protestants join me or I will join them.

    2. @ChinoF,

      in a sense I also agree with you. If/When most Singaporean couples both work having better paid jobs with more responsibility and accountability, the stress may/will increase and then they must be happier having no kids. We call such people “DINKi”; Double Income No Kids.

      (Sunday 30 december 2012, 11.25PM dutch time)

    1. Perhaps there is another cultural aspect. In the Philippines, if you are a couple, you should have chidren. If you don’t, you’re “heartless,” “cruel,” and all those ridiculous emo labels. In Singapore, you’re a couple and there’s really no problem with having no children. I prefer the latter, though in their situation, perhaps Singaporeans need to think it over.

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