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?
The Housing Development Board (HDB) introduced the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) in January 2013 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.
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?”
In her interview, she 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.”
Ms Teo’s comments stirred a largely negative public reaction online and offline. On the social media platforms of the Mainstream Media such as Straits Times, netizens voiced their displeasure on the seemingly inappropiate opinion of Ms Teo.
- Derrick Poh wrote, “Do you produce flats faster than we produce babies?
If the baby arrives before the flat, then what? Confinement do along the corridor? Diapers store at lift lobby? And where do you suggest we place the baby cot?
Not everyone has the luxury of depending on their parents to host them and a baby while the govt takes 3-4 years to build a flat.
Such statements only show how shallow your thoughts are and how much empathy you’re lacking with couples.”
- Teow H Tan wrote, “Cant imagine a PAP minister talking sex openly. Her logic is again insensitive, not understanding and absurd. All PAP care about is more babies for Singapore’s future economy. But do they care for the well being of the child without a proper house to grow up in?”
- Rayson Goh wrote, “Woah, first encourage online gambling, then encourage pre-marital sex and have children out of wedlock. Whatever happened to those FAMILY VALUES the government used to preach? After LKY, we sure are going downhill.
Don’t compare us with western countries. Yes, they can have sex the same night they meet, it’s that easy. But it can be equally easy for them to say goodbye the next morning.”
- Shayful Kamal wrote, “This is what happens when you care more about growth statistics more than your citizen’s well being. And another thing did she just promote premarital sex?”
- Jensen Lu wrote, “It’s not the sex part madam. It’s the part that where you need a space of your belonging to raise your child comfortably, where u can play with your child in the living room, and when they grow up, they can have their own room. This happens especially in highly educated society.
Talking about education, how did she becomes a minister?”
- Geetha Subramaniam wrote, “I lived with my parents while waiting for my BTO, and had 2 kids during that course of time. As much as it was great having my family to help out, it was also very difficult. Getting a helper was nearly impossible coz we had 8 occupants in a 4 room flat. Space was a major constraint coz having a baby (or two in my case) required many stuff. Apart from postnatal stress, there were many issues due to differences in opinions. In-laws felt left out because they felt like intruders in a place that is not their own.
Yes, you do not need a big space to have sex. But you do need an adequate space to raise a child. I find the comment childish and hope that people can see the pros and cons before suggesting such arrangements.”
- Yew Wei Chong wrote, “Having Sex doesn’t always = to having kids. Just how disconnect are our ministers? Everytime they open their mouth, there’s nothing smart comes out.
If you don’t take the people feedback on their concerns and instead you tried to force your silly beliefs onto us, then I don’t think u are the right person to be serving the people.”
- James Lin wrote, “Kids, your minister has spoken. The ideal Singaporean love story has now become “man meets woman, they fall in love, they have unprotected sex and try for a baby tonight, they cohabitate, they think about whether to get married and get a HDB flat.” And if it doesn’t work out with the first guy, actively seek out another and repeat the above steps to upgrade your chances of finding true love. Get used to it – this is the new normal.”
- Charis Mun wrote, “Does she realize how many of those babies conceived on the night the parents first meet, or conceived without the commitment of marriage, end up growing up in a single parent family? Is that a good thing? We are not animals – children should be planned for when both parties are ready for the responsibilities of parenthood. And having the stability and security of your own matrimonial home is essential to raise children.”
- Astrid Luisa wrote, “This sentence annoys me. Why say something that is obvious. Yes you don’t need much space for sex. But you need space for a baby cot, baby essential and clothes etc. All this isn’t free as well. Sadly, our generation both husband and wife needs to work to pay for the flat and make ends meet. It’s only logical for young adults to have a place first before starting a family. Isn’t that family planning and being responsible? A roof over their head. Sure, stay with parents first but not many are keen with that option. Pls put your shoes in our position. Try to understand our situation and not just talk without thinking. More MP talk like that and it won’t change anything.”