Misinterpretation? Who's to blame when the message is unclear?

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Was looking through some responses to a recent initiative by the Social Development Unit, and guess what? I was right. (See my previous post) Well maybe I wasn't entirely accurate in that I didn't think the response would be so much more negative, but hey I was right that the government's mercenary portrayal of teaching students how to love so that they'll make more babies was disastrous.

Here are just some of the more vehement responses.
Response A: "All the wrong moves. It is not like Singapore does not already have a problem with teen pregnancy and abortion.

The best solution is to inculcate the virtue of speaking up from a young age so that the youth do not turn into clams the older they become. Alas, this is a challenge the PAP government will not commit to.

All the wrong moves by those who seek instant solutions."
Response B: "Hahaha ... such desperation. Encouraging JC students to get pregnant???? That's all we need ! More unwed, pregnant teenagers to add to the "great" Singapore success story :-) !!!!"

Response C: "I am surprised our government has not made it mandatory for all to have a minimum of 2 babies before they are granted to purchase, oh I mean lease a HDB flat.

Wait, it might be in the works."
Sarcastic and cynical, yet mistaken. Notwithstanding the fact that the SDU really shouldn't have made this initiative sound so mercenary by raising the issue of late marriages and low birthrates as a problem that needed to be solved through education, let me be the devil's advocate and point out some of the nuances in the article and how this initiative could actually be of benefit to us. At the same time, allow me to examine the effectiveness of such a solution with respect to whether it actually deals with the key reasons behind the low birthrate.

So, going back to the article, allow me to point out two things.

Firstly, this initiative was never meant to increase teenage pregnancy rates. It is instead intended to build meaningful relationships and encourage young adults to get married earlier. The reason for targetting students is simply to "get teenagers up to speed about relationships early"

Consultant pyschotherapist Richard Lim, 43, who runs a romance, love and sexuality module for Singapore Polytechnic students, thinks it is a good idea to get teenagers up to speed about relationships early. (bold added)

'When they are younger and not caught up with their careers, being able to reflect and clarify with experts about what they want in relationships will serve them well in the future,' he said.

Former SDU chief Mrs Tan-Huang Shuo Mei agreed, saying: 'It's not about encouraging JC students to get hitched, but about encouraging socialisation and developing a healthy view of relationships.'

So there's our answer, from the mouths of a psychotherapist and the former SDU chief, I hope that any misunderstanding can be cleared up.

Secondly, not everything the government does is necessarily bad for us. Look at it this way, the aging population IS a problem. Solving this problem doesn't just serve the interests of our government, but it would also serve our interests. (that's assuming you aren't thinking of migrating)

But all that aside, I really wonder whether this is the right solution. The government seems to think that the reason why people get married later and have less babies is because they aren't in healthy relationships or see no need to get into one. While it certainly is possible that causing more people to turn romantic might result in earlier marriages and more babies, the fact remains that many Singaporeans are deterred by the rising cost of living (no thanks to GST hikes) and other pragmatic reasons. One thing's for sure though, portraying baby making as an economic activity to serve national interests isn't exactly romantic. If anything, such pragmatism merely turns people off.