by Brad Bowyer
At the National Day Rally in 1977, as reported in the Straits Times, then Prime minister Lee Kuan Yew stated, “we must lower our birth rate to absorb foreign workers on a permanent basis”. One must wonder given what we are seeing today is this same thinking still at the core of PAP Planning?
That statement was made when Singapore’s population was only 2.35 million with less than 5% foreigners, but the government was already embarking on a process of bringing in more foreign workers and was planting the seeds in the public’s mind. The PAP had determined to itself that foreigners were hungrier and more hardworking and accepting of lower wages than locals (several contemporary documents reference this), which was exactly what they wanted to remain competitive and keep high growth during a then challenging economic time for them.
During the 1970s, in further support of this thinking, the government had put in place several active eugenics programs to shrink the local-born population.
It had enacted the Voluntary Sterilisation Act (1974), which was primarily targeted at low income and lesser-educated members of the population (evidenced by things like mothers staying in Class B or Class C wards had their childbirth fees waived if either the father or mother underwent sterilization within six months of the baby’s delivery and women without O-Level qualifications, deemed low-income and lowly educated, were offered by the government seven days’ paid sick leave and $10,000 SGD in cash incentives to voluntarily undergo the procedure) and it also had the infamous 2 child policy (which ran from 1972 to 1985) where a mixture of propaganda and financial penalties were also used to drive down birth rates.
Both were very successful but alarmingly for the government the financial penalties also hit the higher educated as well and so we had things like the Graduate Mothers Scheme created and the Social Development Unit set up, both in 1984, to encourage the educated to get married and have more children with accompanying financial benefits and propaganda.
In time the public was not very happy with these openly professed and enacted eugenics ideas heavily focused on education and wealth and so the more negative policies quietly died off from public view and from 1987, when then prime minister Goh Chok Tong announced a new slogan “Have Three or More (if you can afford it)”, a new rhetoric was propagated and we have heard about the need to raise the birth rate ever since.
Note however the proviso “if you can afford it”.
I have mentioned before the ideas of “Educational Apartheid” and “Economic Eugenics” where I stated that the policy landscape we have lived under for decades, and especially the results we have felt, look and feel that way. I say this for the way our society has been set up it looks like only the wealthy, which is highly tied to a rationed educational achievement (re Wikileaks, MOE Cheryl Chan revelation), can afford to have children and get ahead and so now indirectly the lower educated and less well-off are targeted and are slowly disappearing and little has been done to address this.
Now in the 2014 report POPULATION OUTCOMES: SINGAPORE 2050, Yap Mui Teng and Christopher Gee of the Institute of Policy Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy state: – “Singapore’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has been below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman for more than three decades, with an “ultra-low” level of less than 1.3 births per woman since 2003.”
That 227-page report that was created after a 7-year study then goes on to make many recommendations to deal with the problem however I see little evidence any of those recommendations being taken up in today’s policy landscape.
What is even more worrying is since then the birth rate has continued to decline (Now 1.14), the influx of foreigners has accelerated beyond the reports predictions and, as was reported on 25th September by our national media, Singapore’s population has grown to 5.7 million but with almost 40% of them being non-citizens and of the Singapore Citizen component of the growth fully 1/3rd of that, or approx. 20,000 per year is made up of new citizenships and not local births.
From that evidence, the policy report and other studies, it appears that lack of knowledge or even recommended solutions are not the problem so the fact that this situation remains and continues to get worse really leaves us with only one of two conclusions….
It is either by design or by incompetence.
Now given the level of competence the government claims for itself that really means to me that regardless of all the rhetoric we hear the true underlying nature of the policy plan IS exactly the same as it was in the ’70s or worse, i.e. to let the ordinary Singaporean go extinct while only the “selected” remain. I feel this is not too far-fetched given the previously mentioned statements and the history.
If, however, I am wrong then that only leaves incompetence because given the trajectory we are seeing and the fact that after 54 years in power it is only getting worse then that does not bode well for us either.
So whichever way you look at it, whether by design or by incompetence, it seems that the Ordinary Singaporean is going extinct only to be replaced by foreigners to serve an increasingly small “Elite”.
That really means that the next election is not just about good governance but is more an existential moment that may decide the future, if any, for the Ordinary Singaporean.
A change is definitely in order for everyone to have a chance at a good life in our country for otherwise, regardless of their underlying motives, if we continue under the current PAP Rule we look certain to end up as something akin to the Dubai of Asia with only a 15% Elite population remaining and owning and running everything with foreigners doing the rest.
Is this really the future you want?
What are your thoughts? And are you worried?
I certainly am!