As part of the stubborn never-ending effort to convince/persuade/beg Singaporeans to get married and have children, the National Family Council has launched ‘Project Superglue’. Project Superglue – aiming to build “super strong families” – is a grant scheme aimed at Singaporeans aged 13 to 31, inviting them to come up with innovative ideas to promote a “Family First mindset”.

A couple pose for wedding photographs at the beach in Singapore. Although the government is urging citizens to start families, young couples like this face countless barriers. Pic: AP.

First up: The Singaporean Fairytale, a six-month campaign by four final-year students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The students are adding a pro-family spin to well-known fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs and Rapunzel, adding helpful tips on fertility and family living.

While undoubtedly well-intentioned, both Project Superglue and The Singaporean Fairytale have completely missed the mark. It’s yet another example of how the government has failed to get the point (and now students have fallen for it as well).

This main point is this: You can’t make couples want to have children. All you can do is remove the obstacles in the way of those who do, and respect the decision of those who don’t. No one is going to have a baby as a favour to their country.

The government would like to increase the birth rate. Fair enough. But they’re not going to be able to achieve it if they refuse to look at the whole situation.

Young Singaporean couples and families are constantly caught in a state of anxiety. Costs are rising as the island gets more and more crowded (and, looking at the recently passed Population White Paper, is set to get more crowded still). There are now 50-year mortgages to help you pay for your astronomically priced flat, and you can pretty much forget about owning a car when the bidding for a Certificate of Entitlement hits a new high. Although inflation continues to increase, salaries and wages have not. The search for work is incredibly competitive, and there’s a lack of security even after you find employment. There are issues related to unfair dismissals of pregnant women, which obviously makes one think twice about having a baby.

These are important factors that need to be addressed. But even then there is no guarantee that every young Singaporean will settle down and start a family. This is because there are just some people who don’t want to have children. And these people are unlikely to change their minds simply because of a cunningly-inserted fertility tip in a fairytale.
That said, I do want to see how information on fertility has been inserted into the Three Little Pigs.