22 August 2006

Babies & Foreigners

My wife and I were deeply inspired by PM Lee's National Day rally speech. In particular, we were moved by his comments about the need for Singapore to have more babies. This is so very important for the continued success of our economy. We want to do our part for the nation, so last night we decided to make love without a condom.

HaAhahAHAha! Of course not. Don't be ridiculous.

That's exactly what I want to tell the Straits Times, after reading this editorial:
ST Aug 22, 2006
All comers welcome, but...

FOREIGN talent figured large in the National Day Rally speech on Sunday, only it was couched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as a less loaded 'immigration' issue of replenishing vigour and numbers which reluctant Singaporeans are not managing well enough. Birth statistics justify the reiteration of old policy: On a stable statistical trend line, last year's 36,000 births would be 14,000 short of the population replacement level. If this is the best that financial, workplace and childcare inducements can deliver, ready-made infusions from abroad surely are self-recommending. But can this ever be taken on faith? Less self-assured Singaporeans have never been comfortable about the competition for jobs. The downright hostile ask whether newcomers - whether migrant settlers or sojourners on work passes - are not too 'foreign' for the society's texture and of questionable 'talent'. It is to be hoped such opinion does not become prevailing sentiment. Career-minded young couples must make the mental adjustment of accepting parenthood, with all of its sacrifices and not many of the assumed joys early on, or stop muttering about foreigners coming to steal their jobs. They cannot remain selfishly self-absorbed about 'lifestyle choices' of child-free indulgences and expect the economy to keep growing to pay for their wants. It's one or the other ...
Apart from the obvious point that no one actually has sex and makes babies for the sake of supporting the national economy, the ST editorial is also somewhat badly-written. Incoherent, almost. But let Mr Wang help you decipher it. Let's take this mysterious sentence:
Career-minded young couples must make the mental adjustment of accepting parenthood, with all of its sacrifices and not many of the assumed joys early on, or stop muttering about foreigners coming to steal their jobs. They cannot remain selfishly self-absorbed about 'lifestyle choices' of child-free indulgences and expect the economy to keep growing to pay for their wants. It's one or the other.

... strip it down and see what it really means. Here's the decode:
"Young couples must either:

(a) accept parenthood; OR
(b) accept that foreigners will compete for their jobs.

They cannot:

(a) choose not to have children; AND
(b) still expect to benefit from a thriving economy."

When we strip away the clumsy, convoluted language, we see much more clearly how muddled the ST's argument is. The logic collapses all over itself.

For example, whether or not you choose to have a child, you will still have to compete with foreigners in Singapore. What were you thinking - if you get pregnant today, them tomorrow the foreigners in your workplace will resign and go home? If you become a father of three, then your boss won't employ foreigners? What nonsense.

Then the ST tells you that if you choose not to have children, you should not expect to benefit from a thriving economy. Ridiculous. Even if I were a hamster, I couldn't possibly propagate enough children to have any measurable effect on the economy. But I could definitely propagate enough children to impoverish myself!

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38 comments:

Fox said...

"The downright hostile ask whether newcomers - whether migrant settlers or sojourners on work passes - are not too 'foreign' for the society's texture and of questionable 'talent'. It is to be hoped such opinion does not become prevailing sentiment."

That's strange. Doesn't ICA also ask about educational qualifications and race when it reviews work permit/pass applications?

Anon Scaredycat said...

Hahaha.... I liked the heading of that ST article...

"All comers welcome..."

Very fitting for an article about ... er.. babies? :P

Sandy said...

Well, they did ban chewing gum. Next they will ban condoms. Maybe not exactly; you will have to provide NRIC details and reason for using the anti-national product.

John Riemann Soong said...

Next thing, they will encourage teenage pregnancies.

Gosh, is that an ST editorial? I can't imagine what the average reader is thinking.

Anonymous said...

A classic case of they creating the problem and forcing you to be the solution!

What's next? National service for women at the fertility clinics?

Anonymous said...

The artilcle is as brilliant as the speech itself if not better given the jounalistic imputs. Well its time we legalised polygamy in the interest of the national economy. Just like the educated mothers were encouraged to have more "brilliant" kids by the wise one, its time the top 10% wage earners and of course our highly paid intellectual politicians helped save the Singapore economy by taking more wifes to sow their brilliant seeds so that they can save the nation. Don't you for one moment think that its for personal gain. Its a self sacrificing duty for the nation, that why they joined politics in the first place.

Anonymous said...

This is another example of one of the many steps taken by Singapore Inc. towards a "Brave New World".

Singapore Citizens are viewed as another factor of production - labour - in the Govt mouthpiece (ST) that needs to be increased so that combined with the other factors of production, Singapore Inc can purr and continue hit the 3-5% growth that supports the bloated bureaucracy and GLCs.

One of the major considerations in the Decision (to have children) is how we view the future. I for one, feel that the children we bring into this world will face major competitive challenges and need to be provided with the best that we can provide to be able to survive. That being the case, I would rather have 1, at most 2 (if any) so that my limited resources can be allocated to them.

Knowing that the door to migration is being enlarged to welcome even more foreign talent/trash, the child that I bring into this world is staring at unceasing fight for survival even in his own country, when he (if it's a boy) has to take on added responsibilities of national service and striving to survive in his own land.

lunatic_fringe

Anonymous said...

The dipping birth rate is just a red herring. It has no direct relation with the state of the economy.

Notice the rally speech touched on the outflow of adult Sporeans from the island, but little more was mentioned about the numbers and why they are doing so. Everything in the speech was about short term fixes e.g. more immigrants, set up portal for overseas Sporeans. Nothing on self-examination and reassessing policies that have failed.

Summary: The PAP govt intends to go on its merry way like before. The princelng cannot be wrong. Sporeans please shut up, hunker down and work harder.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans say PM Lee's rally speech resonates with them
By Dominique Loh, Channel NewsAsia |
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/226013/1/.html

They must be talking about Singaporeans from somewhere else.

Also notice the interview quotes. They are all attributed to "one Singaporean", "another" or an immigrant. No one is named. And not just a few months since LKY challenged the journalist Ken (Teh?...I forget) to name his sources. Apparently the rules of citations and source attribution only apply when you're in disagreement with the govt.

Anonymous said...

ken kwek

Monkey said...

in reply to the previous comment...

speaking of self-examination and reassessing policies, yeah why does the govt makes it so difficult for singaporean women to marry foreigners and for their husband to have PR/citizenship in the country while men can.

hello, women are the one having babies afterall, if they keep leaving the country, your babies goes too! and if their husband can't stay in sg, of course the women will follow as well.

who cares about overseas portal when there are more direct measures. So men can marry foreign wives and then complain about the wives running off with their money... but women, unless their husband are filthy rich, are assumed to be brainless and definitely going to get 'cheated' by the husband or something.

i can't even figure out this patriachal system. bah.

*rant*

Monkey said...

realize my previous post makes no coherent sense since im ranting...

hmm i meant men can easily get citizenship for their foreign wives last time i check but women have to go through an ardous process which keeps the husband out of the country unless he's filthy rich and already has a PR/work permit in singapore. (aka he's an expat already)

Babies are babies right? But no... Eugenistics at work again. they want sg women to have babies with 'atas' men but then how come they make the laws so lax for men to easily marry china/vietnam wives that these women get citizenship at the drop of a hat compared to the foreign men?

What is this? Victorian times? women are not capable of making clear judgements for themselves?

John Riemann Soong said...

Women's rights should definitely be an issue in the 2011 platform.

I'm tired of the gender roles perpetuated by the neo-Confucianist MIW.

Indi said...

unfortunately, we do have sexist policy makers around here.

biased observer said...

Actually, if you are a Work Permit or ex-Work Permit holder (Not EP), you must clear your marriage plans with the government first - as your right to stay in Singapore can be revoked. I remember a case where a male WP holder married a Singaporean and was denied eligibility to remain in Singapore. He moved to JB with his new wife, so that his Singaporean wife can still be close enough to family. His children were born in Malaysia obviously. But I guess the gummint didn't want those kids.

Anonymous said...

I only wish the Singapore Government wasn't so bloody money-minded when it comes to our population policies.

In welcoming immigrants with open arms, what they are specifically looking for are young migrants who would beef the proportion of our population between age 15 and 60 (i.e. working population), likely to have more babies and most importantly, who would produce more than they consume as compared to retirees.

I say this because sometimes, good things can happen when you least intend it. The best example I could think of is Australia who accepted Vietnamese refugees on a strictly humanitarian basis during the "boat people' crisis during the late 70s and early 80s (younger readers may not be taught this in school).

These "boat people" have gone on to become a vital and successful community in Australian society, and their children have established themselves in the professions. Not overstating the case, they are very proud of and grateful to Australia for accepting them and giving them a new start in life.

You remember what our government did when these boat people arrived in their rickety boats on our shores? After their supplies were replenished, they were towed out to sea by our navy ships. Some would have perished in the open seas.

I have always wondered what Singapore society would be like if we had accepted these refugees rather than 'passing' them on to countries like Australia. But that would have involved our government spending welfare money housing and integrating them. So no way! But on hindsight, if we had taken them in then, today we might have an industrious Vietnamese community in our midst with high birth rates. Our demographic structure might not be in the dire situation it is today.

That's our government's foresight for you.

(Oh, if you recall, our government had also gone out of its way to attract Hong Kong people in the early 90s, capitalising on their fears over the British handover and offering them landed PR. This was quite successful but I think many of the Hong Kong people eventually went to the US and Canada.)

Anonymous said...

The sheer stupidity of the logic (Having more babies lead to better economy) is so mind-numbing that I sat there staring into blank space for a while after reading the article.

SSSIIIIGGGHHHH. First, there are phenomenons and then there are indicators of the phenomenons. What do I mean?

eg:
Phenomenon: A rich person
Indicators: Ability to buy big house, big car, takes 1st class flights ...etc

Is it very important to know WHICH is the phenomenon and which is the indicator so that we will not commit the mistake of putting the cart in front of the horse.

If we were to mistake indicators for phenomenons, we will then have funny ideas such as

1) I am not feeling well, therefore I am being attacked by a virus

2) I bought a big house and a big car, therefore I am rich.

3) I got a fantastic bonus this year, therefore I got recognised for my efforts at work.

Need another example?
Which paragraph below makes more sense?

1) The increase in birth rate has caused the economy of the country to improve.

Or

2) The improvement of the country's economy has caused the birth rate to increase.

Could it be that our government's thinktank is so obtuse that they do not see something so blatant? (I hope not)
But let's assume that they do know how to differentiate between phenomenons and indicators. Then why is the PM still telling us to have more babies to save the economy?

Could the government be trying to tell us "Yah, I know that we asked you guys to stop at 2 in the past, but who knew you guys would be so obedient? Now we will be facing a shortage of manpower for the next 20 years and I be damned if I admitted that it was due to our party's previous policies. So for you guys who are suffering due to our past policies, well, just too bad. But let us try to do something for the future Singapore. If we have more babies, we will then have more Singaporeans to work in our factories, our construction sites, and our warehouses. We can't rely on foreign talent to do such jobs because we have to pay them more than our neighbours so that they will stay here. But for singaporeans working in such places, if the conditions are harsh, where can they go? That way, we can suppress wages and tempt more angmoh MNCs to come over. That will also lead to a better economy as the investments will pour in and all us elites will benefit. So what do you say? Don't use condoms tonight ok?"

But this cannot be the case because our PAP government can never be wrong, they will never neglect the plight of the people, they will never give out goodies just before elections only to take them back later after the elections, they will never do things just to improve the economy and give themselves high bonuses for their performances right?

So therefore there must be some other higher logic for making such statements. Logic so close to metaphysics that my lowly retarded mind cannot comprehend.

chonghan

moomooman said...

I know this is a serious blog...

Wang, when you said "haha..of course not, dun be rediculous"

Do you mean you make love with condom last night?

moomooman said...

On the topic of babies. It is indeed a serious problem, no doubt not unique.

It shivers me to think that Singapore will become a society of lost identity.

Currently we have a majority of Singapore Singaporean.

But if Singapore choose to replace the lack of births by inviting immigrants from China and India, we will become like China and India.

No disrecpectful to them. I have visited China and find their scenary beautiful.

PM Lee mentioned about the immigrants in the US. But US has a very big American Population that will support the amercian culture.

Singapore?

moomooman said...

to Biased Observer,

What you just said it's true. I also read about this Singaporean Man who married his maid. And immediately the maid is Barred from Entering Singapore, not even social visit pass. Apparently this law is listed in their employment contract from ICA.

There is a double standard here. Work Permit holders are not allowed to get married here. Employment pass holders can.

I think it's that elitist thing from MM Lee about grads marrying grads.

John Riemann Soong said...

The issue is taking immigrants and making them immigrants, and not merely "foreign talents".

People who send their children to an integrated education system, not world colleges.

Immigrants that won't form their own cliques separate from other Singaporeans.

But then again often we are isolated from each other anyway - due to the nature of streaming. For example, gangsterism is proliferate in the neighbourhood schools, but if I had not read blogs of some students from such schools, I would not have been aware of the issue at all.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang don't use condom one.

He followed MM's style - connect via intellect ...

Anonymous said...

Don't you all know by now already? The PAP government measures the worth of a human being by the (potential) economic output he/she can bring to the shitty island. In this case, newborn babies and immigrants.

Nothing spiritual, nothing philosophical, nothing intangible. It's all about adding more dollars and cents. It's all about adding more hamsters to the national running wheel in the cage. From R&D to entertainment and the arts, the same Mammon god is worshipped time and again.

Run a country like a corporation, and the people will start to treat it as one. The glaring absence of flags in August except on RC turf and at main roads is a fine example.

Mark my words: the destruction of Singapore will come from within. It won't be overnight, from terrorists with much violence and carnage. No, it will be oh so gradual, from the self-serving and clueless political nincompoops and with much keeping up of appearances.

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side. It could have been be worse. They could have just thrown ethics out of the window and begin cloning their favorite talents. Guess who would be cloned first?

Creepy.

Monkey said...

today after reading and posting my comments on this blog, i took a taxi and the uncle ask me (after some discussion) "so do you love your country?" and it took a while for me to answer the question.

but of course first i needed to whack the uncle around with some concepts on social constructs of political identities and ideas of nation-building. lol poor uncle.

sigh. and you know, i really am quite proud to be singaporean most of the time. but when faced with these frustrating pieces of crap, i find it hard to feel pride when i am obviously not a treasured citizen of this country just because of my gender.

*rant some more* HOw come babies from 'inferior' females are better than babies from 'inferior' males (by way of their income and place of origin?!)

Babies are babies are babies! besides! babies does not means dollars! Are we still selling our babies for monies these days?!

Anonymous said...

Birthrates do have serious implications on the sustainability of the economy. The young and able-bodied are needed to replace the old and retired in order to maintain a comfortable level of GDP.

So, since it's all about money, perhaps the top earners in Singapore should be told have the most babies. We could have a quota-related tiered income system. Those who don't meet the quota could be fined. And the money given to those who cannot afford but can produce.

Isn't that brilliant? Not only will they be able to afford them, they could also tackle the problem of shortage of top talent (based on some genetic theory from a certain top talent). Also, those top earners telling others to have babies should put their money where their mouth is and set an example for the lower talents to follow.

visceral said...

only foolish guests will want to give birth in their hotel. after all, dont you want your children to be raised in a place they can call their own?
-

Anonymous said...

By virtue of their choice to be guests only, they should be intelligent enough to also take advantage of the host's misplaced generosity to raise their young and then move on to a place of their own when the time is ripe.

Anonymous said...

This is the man who thinks mee siam has "hums" or clams in it. My god how detached from reality is he...well done brown

Anonymous said...

maybe because he is the PM, the stall owner give him harm?

Anonymous said...

So much for the elitist's thinking!

My uneducated parents was able to produce 2 grads out of 7 siblings.

In today's economic terms, this means my parents must have contributed greatly to the country's economy. Oops!! Malaysia's economy, to be exact.

porcorosso said...

Let's deal with a few stark truths. Water flows downwards and people gravitate to good jobs and a better standard of living - economic migration is a reality made possible by cheaper and easier travel.

Lots of people are leaving Singapore. They are looking for a better life. Compared to other migrants looking to get into the US, UK, Australia or NZ, Singaporeans measure pretty well against people from the rest of Asia. They are pretty likely to get accepted because they are likely to be educated, speak decent English and have some working experience.

This causes an immediate shortage in the labour supply. The economy has a choice - make do with the people left here and scale down or to replace the people.

Logically, the only people who would come would be those with an inferior standard of living whether perceived or real. However opportunities here are limited because this is a small country. Foreigners need to be given incentives to come. Of course the irony may be that the Singaporeans who have not migrated are the ones paying the price.

They are the ones who pay the cost of attracting the foreigners - the most obvious cost would appear to be the lost opportunities and the jobs they would otherwise have stepped into.

But take an unsentimental look at the domestic workforce - it is quite well educated but will always be limited by the size of the economy. Take the financial services industry - compared to London, New York or Tokyo, Singapore is a backwater. Businesses only teach skills you need to do your job.

Let's be less ambitious. Compare ourselves with Hong Kong. They have people leaving in spades but they also have more returnees as well. They have no shortage of immigrants and they do absolutely nothing to attract foreigners. It's dirtier and less comfortable yet more people want to go work there. It's a more dynamic economy, it is more sophisticated, deeper and bigger. There is less regulation.

There was this very strange film from the 1980's I think - it was called Field of Dreams. Build it and they will come.

Then again, Singaporeans wouldn't leave.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Porco:

The blogger known as Singapore Serf has passed away. An event which he, of course, was unable to blog about.

But you can still read his old entries - http://singaporeserf.blogspot.com. He records many months of long, careful, very detailed deliberation before he chose to emigrate from Singapore.

Contrary to what you say, he didn't exactly emigrate because he had what most people would consider a "better job" overseas. (He became a pizza delivery man in Australia). He did feel compelled to emigrate because he saw his career in Singapore (as a senior IT professional) endangered by the influx of Indian nationals.

(And of course, there were a few other reasons for his emigration).

It is an absorbing read - but I mention his blog and his story now because I just want to point out that it's too simplistic to just say that the government is bringing in foreigners because Singaporeans are leaving.

As Singapore Serf's case shows, it's equally correct to say that Singaporeans are leaving because the government is bringing in the foreigners.

Anonymous said...

Having stayed in Australia, I wish to correct the notion that the Vietnamese has estabished themselves as a virile community in Australia. What they have become is a social problem. They brought in their triads and started dealing in the heroin trade. Just go to the arcades in Chinatown at any major Aussie city and you will see their presence. Long dyed hair, dressed in black, speaking with slang, vietnamese drug runners. Not too long ago one was just hung in Singapore. Ask any aussie and he or she will tell you how much they really "like" vietnamese.

I am not afraid to say that I support the government's policy of only giving citizenship to worthy citizens. We are a small nation, we cannot afford a imbalance by giving citizenship to any tom, dick and harry. Most of all not to uneducated foreigners who will compete with our lower income Singaporeans for jobs. You cannot blame the govt for not allowing entry to the maid who married a local. It is stated in the employment contract and if you break it, of course you pay the price. I believe in protecting Singaporeans. No to immigration No to unworthy foreigners

Anonymous said...

each nation stands on its own merits. the dynamism of hk has to do with a more exciting neighbour than ours in comparison. the minimum cultural and religious differences alone is already are trememdous pluses. don't forget, we are hampered by alot of impasse with our closest neighbour. furthermore, they are bigger in size and size matters to sustain a vibrant domestic market. and if that's not enough, they can duplicate almost what we can humanly achieve and we can't do anything about our geographical limitations. simply put: no fight.

most know that our foreign import is an inevitable progression considering our deficiencies. and being plucked into the global economy in a big way and therefore risk a big bang is most unfortunate because we could have been less ambitious and that might be better for our SMALL population.

i am divided about our country future. to up the stakes maybe our downfall. maybe the lesson for mankind is not to trust in 'the works of your hands'?

Jer 25:6 And do not go after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no harm.

Ranting said...

no apologies if it sounds politically incorrect. this country and its people just dont have the X factor. except for a very very few bright sparks, nothing about us is internationally appealing .of course we like to highlight some nice things others said about us, but it is often said out of politeness and mostly because they are speaking to our money. so i suppose, if you are looking for that kind of compliments, we did produce a few 'scholarly factory operators' to make us some good money to elicit those kind of praises. no big deal really because, there are alot of things money has brought us which are really unnecessary for our happiness anyway. in fact, most are beginning to realise it is such a burden to be in the 'haves'.
so the point? any foreigners come here will suffer the same fate or curse. as the locals leave for 'greener pasture', some because of the stifling political climate here and others because the smarty white pants are doing everyrhing in their power to PLEASE OTHERS( yes, the vision for a great place to live, work and play is mostly targeted at the foreigners be it tourists or potential citizens)so desperately hoping more will take roots here for economic benefits, it also, sooner or later, turn them off as much as it turns the local off. eventually, they too will quit like many of us( for those few who have taken the bait, if not, their next generation will be tempted to do so like so many of us already have - if they are able that is).

seriously, anything that is man made( read: constant construction and decontruction) is so boring after a while especially done in such a small place lah.

goodness, if i have to elaborate, i will probably have to rant and rave soemmore and people will begin to think this is my site and not Mr Wang says so lah.LOL.

balex said...

Singaporeans should give birth to more babies? Then how would they have time to compete with others, upgrade themselves, to keep up with the surge of flooding talents?

Anonymous said...

who wrote this piece of shit? the language is appalling!!
ST's standard?? hahah! what a joke!