From ‘Build singles village to help young people get hitched’, 16 March 2016, ST Forum
(Chua Boon Hou): While I respect the decision of those who have opted to remain single, a check with my single friends revealed that most of them did not choose to be so (“More young people staying single“; last Friday). Our working schedules are so packed that we simply cannot find the time or opportunity to meet other singles.
We have to think out of the box to increase the odds of a meeting exponentially. Most of my friends got attached during their university days, when they stayed in hostels and had chances to mingle in places like the canteen and library.
Hence, building a singles’ village would be a good way to go. For this to work, a lot of criteria will have to be fulfilled.
First, the rent to stay in the village must not be high. However, the term of rental should be restricted to two years as singles are there to find love, not access cheap housing. Second, these rental units have to be small or even shoebox-size. We do not want those staying there to be too comfortable with living alone.
Wi-Fi or other entertainment should not be provided in the units. Those who want to watch TV or surf the Internet will have to go to community halls. All day-to-day activities, such as laundry, must be done in public places, so that singles will have the chance to meet and chat with strangers.
There can also be meetings or outings planned every weekend, or even every night. At the end of the day, even if one does not leave the village with a soulmate, one will leave with more friends than before.
Thanks Chua Boon Hou for giving me an idea for a YA dystopian novel. This is the synopsis.
2049. It is one year to SG100, the hundredth anniversary of Yewtopia, the city-state formerly known as Singapore. Project Red Seed, the covert supplementation of the citizens with the novel hormone Ovaryn to boost the birth rate has led to an unexpected rash of sudden deaths. Desperate to repopulate the country, the Silver Council has rounded up all the unmarried into enclaves for birthing, while their elderly parents are summoned to the National Sanctuary where they will be placed under temporary hibernation. Failure to consummate whilst in residency would be punishable by a 6 month compulsory service to the Seedlot as subjects for the Annual Procreation Harvest, where subjects essentially serve as living sperm and egg farms.
Selected for residency is 25 year old Ban Hock, who was sacked from work for a minor ‘personal indiscretion’ on the pretext of making up the numbers at New Bidadari, a village modelled after every Luddite’s fantasy. Without the Internet or contact with the outside world, residents were forced to attend procreation programs. Trapped in the routine of awkward conversation, campfire games and the dreaded Laundry Hour, Hock, with the help of like-minded rebels; a giant with the face of a murderer but a heart of gold, a 40 year old spinster with a history of horrific ex-boyfriends and a secret transgender, plan their escape from their prison. The Ministry of Family, Fertility and Social Services, on the other hand, already has a contingency plan in place against those unwilling to serve the nation’s Prime Motive, with devastating consequences. Spearheaded by the cunning Vice minister of State and Tiger Mum Violetta Dranker, Hock and company would find themselves the target of the ‘Love Mercenary’ known only as the ‘Matchmaker’, an agent deployed only when all other programs fail.
Will Hock and his motley crew break free of the Ministry’s clutches, or will they succumb to the intoxicant of love and resign to a life of manufactured matrimony?