Christopher Ng Wai Chung ( B.Eng Electrical Engineering, MSc Applied Finance) is the author of Growing your Tree of Prosperity, a book on personal wealth management for the Singapore employee which reached no. 9 in the local bestsellers chart in October 2005.
Only the fittest shall find marital bliss
“You might as well show up with your salary printed boldly on your T-shirt. Save the women at SDU the trouble of asking", remarked a cynical male colleague when another fellow worker was talking about attending the next speed dating session organized by the Social Development Unit (SDU). In this country, even love and romance in are tainted by financial considerations.
Nothing seems sacred anymore.
June, 32, is a now an extremely unhappy single in Singapore. A local university graduate, she joined the SDS in the hopes of finding an eligible man, someone humble and unassuming, not your typical credit-card toting yuppie man out on Boat Quay on Friday night. The Social Development Services, which only matchmakes non-graduates, did a spot check on her. They found that she has a degree and promptly cancelled her membership. June now joins thousands of graduates who infiltrate the SDS every year, only to be caught and kicked out of the organization after their graduate status is discovered.
In a study on marriage trends in Singapore found in the Statistics Singapore website, 32.8% of female graduates aged 30-34 were single in the year 2000. This statistic has decreased over the previous 10 years (from 1990) thanks to the efforts of organizations like the SDU. In contrast, 41% of males aged 30-34 with below secondary education are single. This is a whopping 3.8% increase since 1990.
Can we blame these men for being unwanted and feeling disenfranchised? Their only hope now is to marry foreign brides. That hope in turn is being dashed by a policy which prevents foreign work permit holders from marrying local citizens.
The trends reflect the changing nature of Singapore society over the past 10 years. Graduate women have organizations built for the express purpose of finding their life partners creating a slow but steady improvement in marriage trends. Men with poor qualifications, however, will have to live their lives either being hopelessly single or taking a calculated risk with mail-order brides. Thus we see meritocracy being pushed to its extreme logical conclusion - it evolves into social Darwinism, a term coined by Herbert Spencer, who espoused the theory that only the most capable humans are chosen to dominate. Living in Singapore has become a game of the survival of the fittest. According to social Darwinists, the strongest or fittest should survive and flourish in society, while the weak and unfit should be allowed to die.
If you visit http://www.lovebyte.org.sg, you’ll see that its mission statement says:
“We believe in our mission of promoting marriage among graduate singles and inculcating positive attitudes towards marriage among all singles in Singapore to achieve strong and stable families in Singapore.”
It seems to give the impression that the organization wants graduates to get married but other singles to simply appreciate marriage as a wonderful abstract concept.
In our push to do what works and reward those deemed capable, we constantly run into the problem of crude and primitive benchmarks. Our drive to create families with intelligent and capable children, we engineer a master plan to get highly educated people to marry each other creating some sort of a social stratification within our society. (“Does any one here belong to the Graduate caste?”, one might ask.)
Of course social Darwinism with myopic policy-making fails to consider other more personal factors which may be quite significant. Perhaps some graduate women are less willing to play a nurturing role within the family and Asian men have already sensed that and subconsciously marry down. Perhaps children with graduate moms may also have to see less of parents who are high-flying professionals.
Thus the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In our drive to have graduates marry each other, we deny many children the opportunity to have at least one graduate parent to guide them along in their life journey. For now, we have to learn to be aware of the threat of social Darwinism and be mindful to defend ourselves against that.
And for June’s sake, could we please merge the SDU and the SDS?
His 2nd book, Harvesting the Fruits of Prosperity will be published in December. It details his personal journey to financial independence one year after the publication of his first book. Christopher does not dabble in multi-level marketing, is no sales-superstar, does not qualify to be a member of the elite in Singapore, and today still works as an IT project manager in a American multinational.
Technorati: Singapore; books; personal finance.