In January 2013, the Housing Development Board introduced the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) to give priority allocation for new flats to “first-timer” married couples with children. Under this scheme, 30% of BTO (Built-to-Order) flats and 50% of SBF (Sale of Balance Flats) flats will be set aside for this group.

Former Minister of National Development, Khaw Boon Wan said he adopted this new scheme with two important social objectives in mind: encouraging marriage and encouraging couples to have children as soon as they get married.

For married couples to get a flat in Parenthood Priority Scheme, they must be first-timer applying as a married couple. In addition, the couple must either be expecting their first Singapore Citizen child at the time of the application, or have at least 1 Singapore Citizen child aged below 16 (natural offspring from the lawful marriage or legally adopted).

However, some say the couples will need to own a flat first in order to conceive their child.

Questioned on whether young people are not getting their flats early enough to have children in a media interview, Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo, who oversees the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) replied by saying, “You need a very small space to have sex.”

Ms Teo commented that in Singapore love story has a different flow from the West countries, “In our case, man meets woman, man falls in love with woman, man proposes to woman, they then plan the wedding and do the house.”

“In France, in the UK, in the Nordic countries, man meets woman, tonight they can make a baby already. They love each other. Both of them partly have their own family, so it is a matter of living in yours or living in mine, and they also don’t have to worry about marriage – that comes later,” she said.

But what about the couples who wants to have a child after two years of marriage and get the flat first?

Ms Teo asked, “What if they can’t conceive? Take back the flat from them? How do you know they really tried to conceive? Can we check whether they use contraceptives? Cannot, right?”

Mr Teo in her interview, encourages women to have babies early as they would not know if they are fertile or not.

“You never really know that you’re not fertile until you try. Unfortunately, it is one of those things.”

“There is no fertility indicator. As a woman you will know, if you have regular menstruation, okay, there is a likelihood. But maybe you have a major cyst and how would you know until you attempt to conceive, only to realise that you can’t?”

She also said the search for love is not something to be left to chance, “When I meet young people and ask if they go and look for upgrading opportunities, they said ‘yes’.”

“I said, ‘What about love? Do you go and look for love?’ They said ‘no’. I said, ‘Why not?’ They said, ‘If it happens, it happens’.”

She continued, “I said, ‘You don’t think that upgrading and a good job, if it happens it happens, right? So why is it that you would apply that thinking to your career and your own education, but you don’t apply it to your personal life?’ ”

On the need to respect personal choice when it comes to marriage and children, Ms Teo said, “In this day and age, it is not possible for us to say that you are somehow bad, you are not doing your part for society. No, there are many reasons why people remain single. Sometimes, for very good reasons. Why should we pass judgment on them?”

NPTD is a department in the Singapore government which goals is to achieve a sustainable and cohesive population that supports a vibrant economy, with a strong Singaporean core. NPTD drives the coordination and implementation of population policies across four strategic thrusts: supporting marriage and parenthood, engaging and rooting talent, naturalising and integrating our new immigrants, and engaging overseas Singaporeans.


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