Singapore’s children: Some wanted more than others?
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Singapore’s children: Some wanted more than others?

A recent letter written by Dr. John Hui Keem Peng reminded us all of the existence of the Home Ownership Plus Education (HOPE) Scheme. This ironically named scheme provides support to low-income families… but only if they do not have more than two children. Cash incentives are given out to couples to fund ligation or vasectomy procedures.

The Straits Times has also highlighted Singapore’s policies on abortion in a feature published on March 17 (‘Experts feel the law could be changed to make those seeking abortion think harder and longer’). The article states:

There is mandatory pre-abortion counselling if the women are Singapore citizens or permanent residents; have passed the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE); have at least some secondary education, and have fewer than three children.

There is no counselling for foreigners, rape victims or Singaporeans with three or more children, and those who have not passed the PSLE. If they seek an abortion, they get it right away.

Although one may understand why there is no mandatory counselling* for rape victims, what is the rationale behind not counselling those who have not passed the PSLE?

In the absence of justification from the relevant body who came up with this policy, one can only conclude that while Singapore is very eager to persuade more highly-educated mothers not to have abortions, they don’t really care about the less educated. There is a strong suggestion that the policymakers have ascribed different values to the offspring of different Singaporeans even before birth.

This level of social engineering is hypocritical at best – especially at a time when the government is desperately finding different ways to cajole Singaporeans into having babies – and despicable eugenics at worst.

Why are policymakers discouraging low-income, lowly-educated Singaporeans from having children? Is Singapore’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) not dismal? Are we not plowing money into more and more “pro-family initiatives“?

Is this just the ugly laziness of a nation that does not want to be responsible for children that may need more help and support from the state? Do we really believe that every child is precious, or are some children more precious than others?

* A reading of The Straits Times‘ article suggests that “mandatory counselling” should be interpreted as “trying to persuade you not to have an abortion”.