Fann Wong’s National Day baby named Zed

From ‘It’s baby Zed for Fann Wong and Christopher Lee’, 9 Aug 2014, article in CNA

Baby Zed’s National Day (Aug 9) arrival was announced to the world via social media. A post on Fann Wong’s Instagram account @fannaiaiwong showed off the new addition to her and husband Christopher Lee’s family, with a bib saying “Worth the wait!”

The sex of the child had not been known, until now. Fann’s accompanying message on Instagram said, “Daddy and mummy felt indescribable happiness when we saw you. Our family is now even more complete. 9 August is the best day of our lives!”

Mediacorp celebrities have a tradition of giving their children bizarre names, in the spirit of international superstar choices like ‘North West’, ‘Blue Ivy’ or ‘Shiloh’.   ‘Zed’ is the British pronunciation of the letter ‘Z’, and sounds like the name of a techno DJ, if not an evil planet-raiding robot space lord. Superman’s nemesis is one General ZOD. It could also be short for the Hebrew ‘Zedekiah’, which makes me wonder if the 43 yr old Fann is going through a Madonna Kaballah phase. Maybe the happy couple will name their next kid ‘X’.

Zed, sounding similar to the more earthly Zac or Zack, is far from being the wackiest local celebrity kid name ever. Somehow only males have become victims of this nomenclature madness. If there’s one way to make your teenage kid hate your guts forever, this is it. It also makes your children instantly searchable on Facebook or Google to the benefit of kidnappers or pesky reporters (or, erm, bloggers). So long privacy.

Here’s my rundown of the most unusual celebrity offspring names ever.

8. DASH (Ivy Lee)

The ex-Mediacorp actress named her boy after the lightning-fast superhero kid in the Incredibles. Imagine if you became fat, got enrolled in the army and can’t complete 2 rounds during your IPPT 2.4km run. It’s like calling your kid ‘EINSTEIN’. Never give your baby a name that creates expectations of superhuman abilities. If you insist on something snappy, consider ‘CURT’ or ‘SPIKE’ instead.

7. WAY (Evelyn Tan+Darren Lim)

This doubles up as the Chinese equivalent of ‘HEY’ or ‘OI’ (wei) and an actual name, but gives rise to awkward sentences like ‘Way is on the way’, or ‘No way Way is doing that’. I’d imagine the parents crooning ‘My Way’ while he was an infant. I wouldn’t want to subject my kid to pun overkill. Luckily his surname isn’t ‘Ang’.

6. MAKSONN (Mark Lee)

I’m guessing that this is a cooler version of ‘Mark Junior’ as in ‘Mark’s Son’, and rhymes with ‘Jackson’. It falls under the list of names with ‘unnecessary double consonants’ (like Sherilynn, Vivvian or Alexiss), and sounds like the name of a Japanese otaku store.

5. CALVERT (Hong Huifang+Zheng Geping)

This is what I could call a portmanteau of ‘Calvin’ and ‘Robert’. It sounds like a scientific unit of measurement for how popular a name is, as in this name is 0.5 Calverts. It’s also the kind of name I would imagine an eccentric professor with a polka-dot bowtie would have. Change one vowel, however, and it becomes ‘a drain that diverts water’ (culvert).

4. RITZ and REGENT (Jack Neo)

Named after posh hotels, there was a running joke/rumour that Jack may just name his next kid ‘Raffles’. While there’s something lordly about ‘Regent Neo’, ‘Ritz’ also reminds me of the biscuit namesake. ‘Regis’ may have worked better, though it’s THIS close to just calling the kid ‘PRINCE’, or if your skin is thick enough, ‘EXCELLENCY’.

3. BRAYDEN (Zoe Tay)

Zoe was a pioneer of the ‘Something that rhymes with AY-DEN’ name craze that hit Singapore mums (Jayden, Cayden etc). According to a wiki, Brayden originates from ‘Braden’, Gaelic for ‘Salmon’. I wonder if he’s good at swimming. If I ask a primary school kid today what he thinks a ‘Brayden’ is, he may just guess a collective term for donkeys, as in ‘A brayden of donkeys were grazing on the hill’.

2. KYNASTON (Pan Ling Ling)

A name of surprisingly ancient English origins according to the ‘surname database’ website. The problematic ‘KY’ makes the pronunciation of this ambiguous. ‘KAI-NASTON’ or ‘KEE-NASTON’? Either way, it sounds like something nuclear physicists would name an exotic subatomic particle, or ‘Canesten’, an antifungal cream for the treatment of vaginal candidiasis.

1. BECKHAM (Pan Ling Ling)

The original bizarre celebrity baby name, and another Pan Ling Ling creation, one that made headlines at least 15 years ago. No prizes for guessing who inspired this name. I wonder how many times people ask the kid if he plays football. The only thing worse than calling a kid Beckham is if you use a megastar footballer’s name ENTIRELY as first and middle names. Like David BECKHAM TAN, or LIONEL MESSI CHEW. Today if you name your kid ‘Suarez’, the teachers at childcare may just decide to muzzle him before letting him anywhere near a ball.

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Singapore always has a surprise waiting for you

From ‘Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed’, 9 April 2014, article by Carolyn Khew, Raul Dancel, ST

A VIDEO to promote Singapore in the Philippines “could have been done better”, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) admitted yesterday, after it was slammed for its “bad script” and “sloppy production”.

The three-minute video features a couple from the Philippines visiting attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands. At one stage, the woman gives the man a gift – a pregnancy test kit indicating she is pregnant. The shocked man remarks: “Singapore always had a surprise waiting for me.

…Netizen Evonne Sim criticised the video for its “low-cost production” adding that it felt “so 80s”.

Filipino travel writer Stella Arnaldo said: “I couldn’t get past the ‘Honey! Look!‘. Bad acting turned me off already. The major advertising firms have regional headquarters in Singapore, and STB comes up with this?”

Cheesy, awkward acting has always been the bane of tourism videos, and so are takeaway catchphrases whether it’s ‘Get LOST!‘, or ‘SHIOK’. The problem with STB’s latest Pinoy pitch is that its catchphrase (Honey, Look!) has nothing to do with Singapore, and what we’ll remember it by is not the Supertree Grove or expensive dining in a cable car, but the image of a pregnancy test kit in a box at the twisty shock ending.

Having a baby is a reason to celebrate no doubt, except that this could your last anniversary trip not just to Singapore, but ANYWHERE in the world once Baby is out. I can only imagine mixed emotions in the hubby, though what I saw from his expression was surely nothing but pure ecstasy.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9

So what we have here is not so much sloppy production or bad dialogue, but a case of excessive ‘storytelling’ and not enough scenes to showcase Singapore, or rather, the REAL Singapore. The Merlion was brutally snubbed in this video and not a single face of a smiling Singaporean was featured. The only food you see here is some atas salmon dish, not satay, durian or chicken rice. And the couple didn’t even look like they were enjoying it, more engrossed with surprising each other than relishing the sights of Singapore from above.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9.33.22 AM

Singapore: Baked Salmon Paradise

Here’s a uniquely Singaporean tagline for the ad since it sorely needs one. CANNOT MAKE IT LA.

 

 

Netizen Evonne Sim criticised the video for its “low-cost production” adding that it felt “so 80s”.

Filipino travel writer Stella Arnaldo said: “I couldn’t get past the ‘Honey! Look!’. Bad acting turned me off already. The major advertising firms have regional headquarters in Singapore, and STB comes up with this?”

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

The advertisement was uploaded to STB’s Facebook page for the Philippines last month. It was also shared on its YouTube channel and featured on TV there. Mr Chong said it was withdrawn because “it was not resonating well with audiences”. – See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

A VIDEO to promote Singapore in the Philippines “could have been done better”, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) admitted yesterday, after it was slammed for its “bad script” and “sloppy production”.

The three-minute video features a couple from the Philippines visiting attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands.

At one stage, the woman gives the man a gift – a pregnancy test kit indicating she is pregnant. The shocked man remarks: “Singapore always had a surprise waiting for me.”

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

A VIDEO to promote Singapore in the Philippines “could have been done better”, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) admitted yesterday, after it was slammed for its “bad script” and “sloppy production”.

The three-minute video features a couple from the Philippines visiting attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands.

At one stage, the woman gives the man a gift – a pregnancy test kit indicating she is pregnant. The shocked man remarks: “Singapore always had a surprise waiting for me.”

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed

STB admits ad could be better after netizens call it ‘bad’ and ‘sloppy’

Published on Apr 9, 2014
 0  0

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed

STB admits ad could be better after netizens call it ‘bad’ and ‘sloppy’

Published on Apr 9, 2014
 0  0

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed

STB admits ad could be better after netizens call it ‘bad’ and ‘sloppy’

Published on Apr 9, 2014
 0  0

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

Tourism video to promote S’pore in Philippines slammed

STB admits ad could be better after netizens call it ‘bad’ and ‘sloppy’

Published on Apr 9, 2014
 0  0

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/top-the-news/story/tourism-video-promote-spore-philippines-slammed-20140409#sthash.TLqi7rPj.dpuf

LKY on death and mediocrity

From ‘Singapore’s Lee says he wants a quick death’, 7 Aug 2013, AFP article in insing

Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who will turn 90 next month, said in a new book published Tuesday that he feels weaker by the day and wants a quick death.

“Some time back, I had an Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) done which says that if I have to be fed by a tube, and it is unlikely that I would ever be able to recover and walk about, my doctors are to remove the tube and allow me to make a quick exit,” he wrote in the book “One Man’s View of the World”.

…”There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach,” he wrote.

…Singapore’s low birth rate has forced the government to open the country to foreigners, who now comprise a third of the population. The influx, however, has sparked protests from citizens and prompted the government to tighten immigration flows in recent years.

Lee pointed to the example of Japan, which he said is on a “stroll into mediocrity” as the ranks of its elderly swell due to young couples not producing enough babies.

Well, I suppose everybody desires a quick and painless death, including founding fathers, though for LKY he may choose to succumb to it only if he’s willing to let go of his baby, our Singapore. In 1988, he famously declared at the National Day Rally that:

Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.

A quote that has often been misinterpreted as LKY RISING from the grave. Like a zombie. Our ex MM has been the victim of a couple of hoax deaths himself, none of which imply a ‘quick and painless’ one as he so desires, though some opponents would wish him the exact opposite.

Today, he appears to want to spend as little time on a ‘sick bed’ as far as possible. To LKY, death is, in other words, Retirement and playing Scrabble, while most of us look forward to the end of work as a reason to rejoice, to LIVE. In 2008 after suffering from an atrial flutter, he said that he would not live beyond 94 as his father did, and attributed longevity to his parents’ genes in addition to an abstemious lifestyle of repetitive exercise and spartan eating, a routine some would deem to be worse than death itself.

Despite his intolerance for mediocrity like one’s revulsion of the plague, there’s every possibility that LKY’s inevitable demise will be as ‘mediocre’ as the rest of humanity. In 1976, he set out his criteria on Government job candidates:

…I don’t defend rudeness. I don’t defend arrogance. I don’t defend mediocrity. I don’t defend the desire to do the minimum and get by.

In 2007, he even used mediocrity to justify why First World Nordic countries like FInland and Denmark paid their ministers less than those in Singapore.

…He (Low Thia Khiang) has compared Singapore as if it were Denmark, Finland or Switzerland. Their systems and governments never produced the kind of transformation that we have, and their system and government have a broader base and can afford a mediocre government.

So much for this medicore ‘Swiss standard of living’ then. Naturally you would have Scandinavians retorting to LKY’s remark with the ‘Nokia’ argument.

He kept up the defence of his stance of only having the best in 2008, when he said:

If they (Government) do not find talented people with the drive, energy, integrity and passion, then the future is in doubt. The system cannot cope with inadequate, mediocre men. You need top men, able men.

Alas, you can’t have a functioning society without mediocre people taking up mediocre work to serve the cream of the crop. To us it’s a ‘normal’, even ‘average’, day job, be it operating cranes or running a hawker stall. To LKY, mediocrity is a euphemism for physical and intellectual laziness. From the way he describes Japan’s ‘elderly swell’ like a fetid tumour, it appears he has little faith in the ‘silver economy’ as well.

Mediocrity may also be defined as being nothing ‘out of the ordinary’, so if Japan is ‘strolling towards mediocrity’, then Singapore, if she continues with the same system of government, policies, education, housing and arcane laws,  is steadily ‘brisk-walking’ towards it.  A template city with a makeshift citizen core that has lost its soul, a mediocre shell of what it aspires to be, that even she herself would commit seppuku just to get it over and done with.

It’s unlikely that ‘One Man’s View’ will be the elder statesman’s swansong and he may be waiting out for that ultimate autobiography of autobiographies to deliver his final chapter on himself, on Singapore. If he’s right about the 94 year deadline, then that last book, a potential record-breaking blockbuster (especially if unfinished), will be 4 years in the making. Fifty Shades of Lee, perhaps?

Abortion destroys families and the nation

From ‘Abortion destroys nation building’, 2 April 2013, Voices, Today

(Edmund Leong Meng Tsi): It is indeed “Time again to review abortion laws” (April 1), considering the long-term emotional harm on post-abortive women. Some of them are adversely affected and are easier to identify, as they suffer visibly. Much is known about the treatments for them.

Literature on abortion suggests that “unaffected” women harden their hearts instead. Cognitive dissonance hinders their ability to love properly because they had denied love to their closest kin through abortion, and yet must continue to extend love and show compassion to others throughout their lives.

They feared a tiny human so much as to eliminate it, and will subconsciously guard against bigger humans by building walls around their hearts. I believe that when the heart of the family is compromised, the entire family is affected. Emotional strains can tear families apart, and the effects can be passed to future generations.

Singapore’s nation-building efforts are inadvertently being foiled not only because 12,000 babies are aborted annually, but because women are offered an easy way out of adversity.

Abortion is biased towards self-interest by eliminating another’s interest, thereby destroying families and the nation. We must instead utilise all means to keep babies and their mothers alive, physically and emotionally. Adoption is the better choice.

The issue of legalised abortion has been fought over by pro-lifers, pro-choicers, feminists, religious folks, moral philosophers, doctors and politicians for ages, and we will probably never understand enough about the human consciousness or even what ‘life’ means to come to a consensus on the ‘rights and wrongs’ of terminating a ‘potential’ human being. So instead people focus on abortion as a matter of disrupting the natural order of how society traditionally grows. Even more so now that we’re facing a dearth of babies and on surface it would seem logical to assume that one unaborted baby equals to +1 population. If only it were that simple.

In the eighties, loss of babies who could be borne of educated couples was deemed a shame and a loss of productive citizenry. A writer known only as PGT lamented the loss of ‘educated genes’ which would have given rise to ‘smarter babies’. Husbands whose wives went for revenge abortions decried them for ‘the break up of an otherwise happy marriage and family relationship’. Our ‘over-liberal’ abortion laws would also supposedly encourage more people to ‘change bed-partners without any sense of responsibility’. The fact is we have been promiscuous and having unwanted babies way before surgical abortion even existed. The difference is being skewered with a blade on an operating theatre vs drinking some awful tasting folk remedy concocted by your witch-doctor that would scramble your foetus into a bloody pulp before you shed its mushy corpse out through your genitalia. Even today, you’d find dead or barely alive infants in toilets, rubbish chutes or buried in the ground. We always had a means of killing the unborn if we wanted to, with varying success, but nations didn’t get ‘destroyed’ and families still thrived.

If one could ‘destroy’ a nation by depriving it of babies and have abortion turning us all into promiscuous devil-may-care lunatics who scrimp on condoms, neither is it a good idea to have children borne out of mothers who wanted them eliminated out of their uteri in the first place. The simplistic answer to unloved babies would be adoption, but that’s assuming every rejected baby will automatically be shuffled away from a ‘hardened’, emotionless mother and nurtured in a warm, loving home where stepparents make them Eggs Benedict for breakfast everyday.

There are as many complications of reluctant birth as there are to terminating pregnancies. What if no one wants your baby? If your chronically depressed mother told you she had wanted to abort you but was forced to relent at the last minute, and she couldn’t find anyone to take over maternal duties because you were such an ugly infant with all sorts of respiratory problems, how would that make you feel? Even if you found yourself a home, what if your foster parents, though initially enthusiastic about the whole adoption thing, turn out to be really terrible people who wish they had picked someone else from the orphanage? What if you found out that you were conceived after your mother was gang-raped and she couldn’t bear to put you down? Neither choice is, as the writer proclaimed, an ‘easy way out of adversity’, nor do women who face the abortion dilemma necessarily FEAR that tiny human like it was the devil’s spawn. Tell that to the rape victim, the single unemployed mom with quintuplet foetuses, or the mother who realises her baby’s got a monstrous physical defect or severe Down’s syndrome.

We can do little about sex-starved teenagers and religious attitudes towards contraception, but it’ll take more than a nasty pre-abortion video, or haranguing anti-abortionist men who speak about post-abortion psyche as if they’ve been through it themselves, to keep the deaths of the unborn in check.

Work-life balance a slogan with little reality

From ‘Work-life balance: A reality check’, 13 Sept 2012, Voices, Today

(Shafie Halim): We need to turn over every stone to create a conducive environment for procreation. In our fast-paced society, it takes more than dangling baby bonuses, housing carrots, maternity and paternity leave for couples to start a family.

Typically, Singaporeans work more than 44 hours a week, a benchmark set during Singapore’s industrialisation, when factory production lines were emerging and much of the workflow was manual. This has not been reviewed for almost 30 years. Today, many work processes are no longer tied to the number of hours spent at the desk.

Yet, many companies still have a 5.5-day work week. In some developed countries, it is 40 working hours or fewer a week, which makes us appear like an ancient civilisation. At present, work-life balance is a slogan with little reality. Flexible working hours should not be misconstrued as a contribution to work-life balance, as the hours clocked remain status quo.

While ‘ancient civilisations’ did spend more time physically toiling in a day than what we do in the office for an entire WEEK, most of their activities that we no longer define as ‘work’ revolved around finding food, shelter, or harvesting stuff. The rest of it is waiting, sleeping, singing, dancing, killing or having sex with each other. Our ancestors could afford to be poets, bards, monks, barbarians, nomads or the guy who goes around town shouting the latest gossip or putting out the street lamps. Before the invention of the light bulb, they could do nothing at night other than huddling around the fire, creating their own god-stories, mending loincloths, swatting flies, making babies, or training their children to become savage warlords. Some of us aren’t ashamed to ‘work around the clock’, our phones on 24 hours waiting for business or for the boss to text at 3 am in the morning. In a way, with their nasty, brutish, short lives, they achieved more ‘work-life balance’ than any of us will ever have, if you define ‘life’ in Old World terms, which is mostly staying alive and breeding. With all our technology, relative free time and longevity, we’re still having trouble with the latter.

No developed nation is willing to forsake that insatiable drive, that contagious work ethic that has become a First World addiction, for some touchy-feely concept like ‘work-life balance’, which takes the fire out of the ‘striving’ to get where we are today. It’s as distant from reality as a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, the happy ending of a cannibalistic Grimm fairy tale, there only to give the warm and cuddly illusion that organisations actually treat their workers as human beings rather than cogs in a machine, like wardens giving prisoners a whiff of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, while they line up waiting to be dispensed a glob of liquid tar in their mugs instead.

‘Busyness’ is a badge of honour. To appear hurried and drained is a peacock’s display of passion and enthusiasm. People stack their files like gladiators showing off battle scars. We vie to be the office ‘workhorse’ and organisations can’t help but reward ‘workaholic’ attitudes. No testimonial of an ‘employee of the month’ is complete without the recipient ‘going beyond’ his scope of work, ‘going the extra mile’,  or ‘working even when he had SARS’. We fight tooth and nail for such awards so that we can use these to move on up to the next better job, where we’ll subject ourselves to the same, unyielding, masochistic pleasure of HARD work again. In our job interviews everyone has an anecdote about how they put in long, severe hours to get a project done. You’re not likely to beat the workaholic to the job if you rave about your appreciation of  ‘work-life balance’ to your future employer. Most employers only ask about your family out of courtesy, or slyly assess the likelihood of you going on maternity/paternity leave, not to sit entranced by how fulfilling and invigorating your Sunday family picnics are.

We’ve been slogging so long and hard that taking a day off just to ‘do nothing’ elicits yelps of fake envy from your colleagues, when deep down inside they console themselves knowing that they’ve done more in one day than you. But it seems that we have been grumbling about the 44-hour work week for decades. In the eighties, you already hardly had time for the ‘finer things in life’, like music, painting, or even PRAYING. We realised that we’re all working ourselves to death but calming this fever didn’t mean taking LESS hours of work, but rather people telling us HOW to do it better without sacrificing the 44 hour metronome. S Dhanablan told us how to work ‘smarter’, and  5 day work weeks were the stuff of office-drone wet dreams. In the nineties, ‘flexible’ working hours was all the rage, and we started to recognise the importance of a ‘parent-friendly’ workplace. In 2002 came scintillating buzzwords like ‘flexi-hours’, ‘flexi-place’, ‘family friendly’ and the Gaia-like ‘work-life HARMONY’. It’s also sadly ironic that to in order to achieve that ‘harmony’, the MCDS had to create ‘WORK’ groups to look into it, calling its main arm the ‘Work Life Unit’. I’d imagine these people as cherubs who play harps all day long.

To sugarcoat a ’24 hour economy’ with bits and pieces of soothing catchphrases is like sticking smiley faces on a charging bull. We can’t change our attitudes overnight, when working the late shift, burning midnight oil, being ‘too busy to eat’ are among other neurotic habits that our workers are compelled to engage in to feel relevant and on par with their peers. Where management sees effort as a compensating factor for innovation, skill, expertise or even intelligence. Where ‘giving it your all’ feeds that gaping chasm in your soul with the nourishing milk of temporary achievement. You might say you can ‘do no wrong’ working yourself to death. The least you could be is a ‘solid worker’. And for some, that says a lot. Work is a 4 letter word, but like the OTHER 4 letter word, we can’t get enough of it. So it’s not so much unturning stones anymore, as it is pushing a boulder up a hill like Sisyphus, only for it to roll back down to square one again.

Malay men more romantic than Chinese men

From ‘Do Malay husbands know something that Chinese husbands don’t?’, 15 Aug 2012, ST Forum

(Ivan Goh): THE total fertility rate of Malay Singaporeans last year was 1.64, followed by Indian Singaporeans at 1.09 and Chinese Singaporeans at 1.08 (“Get married, have babies”; Sunday).

Most incentives – maternity leave, maid levies and discounted taxes – are aimed at women, and may be working better for the Malays than for the Chinese. Perhaps the Government should find out why Malay women are more willing to have babies.

Are Malay men more romantic, persuasive and less stressed out by life’s perceived demands than Chinese men? Do Malay couples have a more viable network of caregivers?

I would like to believe that a man with confidence is attractive to women. He can better influence his wife to have more babies, especially if he believes he can adequately provide for the family. How can Chinese Singaporean men attain more confidence? In this modern age, the ability to provide translates into how much a man earns and his job security.

Greater confidence may well encourage Singaporean men to take the plunge earlier, and increase the potential for having babies sooner.

The statistics speak for itself and few have dared to ask why the Chinese are lagging behind our Muslim community, until the writer decided to broach a sensitive topic that has always been muddied by almost-taboo factors such as educational level, genes, status, religion, culture, diet and libido. There are exceptions in both races of course, with Chinese families who produce up to quadruple the national fertility average, and Malay families who stick to one child or none at all, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Malay families are, on average, bigger than Chinese ones without stumbling into some form of stereotyping and risk accusations of racism. By saying that Malay couples have ‘more free time and are less stressed’ is insinuating that they don’t ‘work as hard’. By saying that they’re ‘persuasive’ is suggesting that Malay men are born sex machines. Such arguments are loaded with negative, unhelpful connotations and without a thorough, nationwide sex survey on the habits and appetites of the typical Chinese or Malay spouse, it’s all guesswork for now. I’m pretty doubtful, though, whether the writer’s claim of the Chinese man being less adept in the skills of seduction has anything to do with our miserable TFR. In this age of reproductive technology, you can father a child as long as you can afford it, even without bothering to pleasure your wife at all. There’s also an inherent contradiction in correlating confidence with earning power and hence more babies. Surely if a man spends most of his time making money, he’d have less for the Mrs, or children.  Or he would apply his gleaming confidence and hence sex appeal anywhere else other than at home and put their entire family unit at risk.

It’s also reasonable to ask if Chinese women place more emphasis on their careers hence put off childbearing compared to Malay women, rather than whether Malay men are Lotharios and Casanovas compared to the Pee Wee Herman Chinese. A husband can sweet serenade his wife all night long but will still fail if she’s not in the mood. Maybe it’s not Chinese men who are not ‘confident’ enough, but their women who are too ‘gung-ho’ when it comes to chasing their careers, to the point that sex becomes a 2 minute formality or non-existent and babies are pushed to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list. Maybe it’s nothing at all to do with how career-minded Chinese couples are, but a case of poor time management. Maybe being a housewife and marrying early is more socially acceptable to a Muslim family than a Chinese one. Maybe people bring more babies into the world because they were born into big fertile families themselves, with the ‘extended family network’ being an incentive for raising a child, along with the passing down of ‘baby-making’ genes, which pretty much condemns the fate of traditionally small Chinese families to a self-limiting vicious cycle.

No one would profess to have the answer and maybe no one wants to know what it is because anything that you hypothesise is bound to be discriminatory in some way or other, but picking on the Chinese male’s personality flaw is probing the bark of a tree without seeing the forest.

LKY and the ‘folding up’ of Singapore

From ‘Get married, have babies’, 12 Aug 2012, article by Leonard Lim, Sunday Times

…In his annual National Day dinner speech to residents of Tanjong Pagar GRC and Tiong Bahru, Mr Lee kept his message on population simple: The country’s citizens are not reproducing enough, and migrants are needed as a temporary solution. But in the long run, mindsets must change, and the trend of declining birth rates needs to be reversed.

“If we go on like that, this place will fold up because there will be no original citizens left to form the majority,” he said. And we cannot have new citizens, new PRs settle our social ethos, our social spirit, our social norms.

“So, my message is a simple one. The answer is very difficult, but the problems, if we don’t find the answers, are enormous.”

Oh boy are we in trouble. According to the CIA Factbook, we are down in the doldrums in terms of total fertility rate at a miserable 0.78, which is way below the minimum number to replace ourselves. But what’s interesting about LKY’s exhortations to procreate is not what’s being said, but what’s NOT. For example, he did not say that educated women with pHDs should get boyfriends and settle down. He also did not specifically urge the Chinese to pick up the slack. What can only be inferred, from how he social-engineered the Singapore population experiment over the years and from the number of PRCs working here, is that it’s the faltering Chinese Singaporeans that he’s really concerned about.

Racial composition is rarely mentioned these days, but it seems that the old man built this nation using his own golden ratio of how each ethnicity should make up the population, even if it meant staunching its growth at certain critical periods in Singapore’s history, and to see his formula for success fail in the face of ‘personal choice’ is like God stomping his feet because his creatures are not sucking on the sweet nectar of the fruits that he created for them. I would feel the same way if I’m playing Simcity and my little people refuse to reproduce themselves. Anyone would be tempted to push the reset button rather than see your piece of work destroy itself. You get the feeling that LKY’s lament is more an emotional one than one that involves deep, probing reflection or acceptance of the fact that where we are now is the result of an abject failure of balancing First World ambitions with First World problems. We are having it faster, stronger, better but weaning ourselves off the face of this earth while at it, like tireless, naive male spiders trying to get it on with the Black Widow of progress.

The last time LKY mentioned ‘racial balance’ was in relation to the SAF and the tenuousness of our position in the region in terms of defence.

‘If we continue this way without the new immigrants and PRs and their children doing national service, the composition of our SAF will change. So please remember that…..It is in Singapore’s interest to have immigrants who can be integrated without upsetting the racial balance.

In response to the influx of Hongkongers in the eighties, he expressed a resolute fondness for the ‘status quo':

Let us just maintain the status quo. And we have to maintain it or there will be a shift in the economy, both the economic performance and the political backdrop which makes that economic performance possible…..You look at the educational levels of the performers. It has got to do with culture, nature and so many other factors. But year after year this is the end result. Let’s leave well alone. The formula has worked. Keep it.

‘Nature’, of course, is a euphemism for RACE. A UMNO MP did not mince his words when taking the cue from LKY regarding the fate of the Malay majority in Malaysia, saying that LKY’s coercions were to ‘strengthen the dominance of the Chinese on the island’. When you mention ‘racial mix’ and optimal ‘performance’ in the same breath, it becomes quite obvious that you’re hinting that a certain group is driving the success of the country, though that looks set to change at the rate we’re welcoming Caucasian billionaires with open arms, not to mention plying foreign income off our two casinos. LKY wouldn’t want to mess up the HDB ethnic quota too. The Ethnic Integration Policy, by capping the proportion of races in housing estates, was intended to ‘maintain a healthy racial mix’, without specifying what an ‘unhealthy’ composition is. In 20 years when our homegrown population will presumably halve in size, the EIP and its secret ratios will need some revisions as well. I mean, you don’t want your neighbours rioting and burning the flat to the ground over curry smells would you.

We have no data on the proportion of races among Singaporeans renouncing their citizenship, erstwhile pretending that emigration doesn’t exist. If making couples have sex more often is an insurmountable hurdle, how about trying to figure out what’s making Singaporeans want to LEAVE? It’s likely that the answer would partially explain our reluctance to have children. Chan Chun Sing and the MSF have their work cut out for them, and if he’s serious about pushing our TFR up, perhaps he should come clean with the numbers, examine the reasons why people abandon their Home, and let us all know of the gravity of the situation, instead of hiding painful facts from Singaporeans like sweeping broken glass under the carpet. If all else fails, be wary when our NEWwater starts tasting funny and you feel tingly sensations in all the wrong places after drinking it.

But it’s not just a freak census that LKY’s terrified of. It’s the PM’s position and PAP leadership itself. In 1988, LKY remarked that Singapore ‘was not ready’ for an Indian Prime Minister, that he would have considered S Dhanabalan if not for his ‘Indian ethnicity’. Our cabinet still holds a majority of Chinese ministers, and remains a reflection of the ground demographics. So when it looks like that precious ‘formula’ is on the brink of shattering and LKY’s worst nightmares are on the verge of coming true (though he probably wouldn’t live long enough to witness it), we have an ENORMOUS problem on our hands, and it’s not just a matter of the EXTINCTION of the Singaporean, but the fall of a NATION, when the house that is our little red dot is no longer a home. In the spirit of the business parlance used by LKY, Singapore Inc may have to ‘close shop’ if nothing is done. And it takes more than a cheeky Mentos ad  (National night, hip hop or hip flop?) and a Ministry playing the role of Love Guru to do it.

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