“Am I in circulation or in vegetation?”

One might wish it were a cruel, cruel joke, but it isn’t. A write-up recently appeared in The Sunday Times, entitled ‘Active While Single: It’s OK to be single but it’s not OK to be passive’. In it, single Singaporeans are encouraged to put themselves out there; in other words, “circulate”.

It reads like a bizarre nightmare involving an over-zealous auntie at Chinese New Year, but it’s actually a sponsored piece by the Social Development Network, the government-linked matchmaking/dating organisation.

Written by Dazzling Chong – whose personal website promises that she will “make you laugh with her wit” and “help you with her insight” – the piece is out of this world. “I am all for action and ready for procreation,” she declares, referring to all the “unborn babies” and the “time bomb” in her ovaries.

'Good'. Pic: AP.

It would be absolutely hilarious if it weren’t so outrageous at the same time. The piece has zero respect for personal choice; it does not even stop for a moment to consider the possibility that there are some people who are single because they like it that way. It automatically assumes that if you are single, if you are alone reading books on a holiday, you are sad and deprived, and doing yourself a disservice. It assumes that all women want to be a “SG New Independent Princess”, whatever that is.

'Bad'. Pic: AP.

It is a maddening piece of badly-written fiction, only it’s endorsed by the government.

The message in the piece was nothing new. The government wants babies, and is flinging money at the problem, paying people to write, to campaign, to cajole Singaporeans to punch some kids out. Throughout all these efforts they have forgotten that Singaporeans have the right to choose whether they want to remain single or not, and it’s really no one else’s business.

What makes it really worrying is that the piece was written with Focus on the Family Singapore. Focus on the Family is a conservative, evangelical organisation that originated in the USA. It is famously anti-LGBT, anti-abortion, anti-divorce and anti-pre-marital sex, advocating for abstinence-only sexual education and the enforcing of strong gender roles. It’s troubling to find such a group – which has been criticised and described as a “hate group” – in Singapore, but even more troubling to find that the government is actually willing to collaborate and let them play a role in social engineering.