Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo has responded to criticism over her comments that couples need ‘a very small space to have sex’.
Ms Teo posted in her Facebook on Wednesday night (12 Oct) that the media reports of her interview on the subject ‘might not have captured everything in the way” she had intended.
She added, “But in all seriousness, we need an honest conversation on how, as a society, we can get ready for Millennial families.”
“Every way I turn, I see more of our Millennials boldly stepping up to overturn long-held assumptions about what Singaporeans can and cannot achieve.” said Ms Teo.
Ms Jolene Tan, head of advocacy and research at the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) remarked on its Facebook, “It’s clearly meant as a joke, (but it’s) fallen a bit flat.”
“There’s still many barriers… Many women still face discrimination at work. Working hours in Singapore are still (much) longer than many other [similar] advanced economies.”
“The joke hit the wrong note for many because it reflects a ‘hit-and-run’, ‘conceive baby first, ask questions later’ mentality that also seems to animate ineffective ‘incentives’ (e.g. Baby Bonus cash gift) and badgering messaging around conceiving.”
Ms Tan wrote on, “The better policy moves (childcare provision, paternity leave) address structural barriers to parents meeting their needs, but there remains a deeper difficulty in reconciling aspirations to parenthood and the pressures of a family-unfriendly work culture, employment insecurity, financial pressures, inadequate support for shared caregiving etc. Those, not where to have sex (which we can sort out ourselves, thanks), are the hard questions that affect the total fertility rate.”
The National Population and Talent Division noted in its September report that the number of citizen births increased for the second consecutive year since 2014, to 33,725 citizen births last year. This was the highest in more than a decade, higher than in 2012 (Dragon year). The median age of citizen mothers at first birth remained at 30.3 years in the last two years.
However, Singapore is troublingly one of the countries with the lowest fertility rate.
A number of international publications such as BBC have since reported on Ms Teo’s comment.
Many netizens frown upon Ms Teo’s earlier remark from the interview, because people – especially young people – took her seriously, as could be seen on some of their comments quoted below.
- Suee Yan Lai Planning to have a house before having children is far beyond just wanted to have ‘space’ for sex, after all, I doubt couples staying with parent live a sexless marriage life regardless planning for children or not… I just cannot believe that such comment comes from a highly educated LEADER that supposed to be responsible for Singapore life-hood. Very disappointed actually. This basic common sense or logic once should have are being ignored and twisted for some reasons… I agreed that young couples not having children is a very complex and difficult problem, and I don’t think it’s a one solution thing. But it’s look like her solution to it is far too convenience and make no sense. No matter how I look at it, no children for couples staying with parents cannot be due to no space for sex, because it kind of unreal that these couples live a sexless marriage??? I just cannot understand her logic??? Pardon my ignorance.
- Tingting Trissie Actually we don’t need her to tell us that. There are places everywhere we are having sex at. Cinemas, handicap toilets, Parks, buses… of course we know. But we need a lot of space to take care of whatever comes after the sex. Nine to ten months later.
- 长宁 I felt truly ashamed that our minister of international high acclaim could make such egregious and ridiculous public statement that defies common understanding. Evidently, the our leaders are completely out of touch with the ground if we also considered Tan Chuan Jin’s recent argument against licensing online gambling.
- Chunhwa Tham Small space is one thing. But when one baby is pop out and the constraint space is a problem. Kindly explain your thought can? Can you consider the space issues not by space for living environment not space for sex.
- Loke Fook Seng If couples can forgo privacy and go with a smaller space, so can HDB go with less profits and build flats in advance of needs rather than to have guaranteed buyers before building and therefore the few years’ wait. I think having a healthy TFR is more important than HDB showing healthy profits. I really wonder whether the government has tried hard enough.
- Ginny Tan Easy said than done. Make sure your children will set such an example when they grown up as young adult then we will be more convinced! Parents definitely want the best for their kids even to the extend of providing them a space and shelter when they get married.