Why are we not producing enough? The Singapore Government and "experts" have given 1001 reasons why but it all boils down to poor foresight. When I left for Australia in 2003 to do my degree, i thought the country was doing ok then. I mean, there was no Baby Bonus to speak of and Singapore didn't feel that crowded (though 4.1 mil in 2003 wasn't something to sneeze at) so I assumed population growth was somewhat ok. In less than 10 years, Singapore grew to 5 mil and yet the Government was dishing out $$$ to encourage Singaporeans to produce more... what gives? Obviously, we opened our doors to outsiders too liberally in order to sustain our economic growth... Singaporeans became blinded by material wealth and the need to work harder so we could keep up... again, I have nothing against skilled foreign talents (e.g. nurses at hospitals)...
Now let's talk about the part about being a middle-income-working parent of two children (born in 2011 and 2014).
It is just plain tough...
Don't get me wrong... I love my children but it's really sad that we have to spend all our time at work trying to earn enough so we could all have a decent comfortable lifestyle in one of the most expensive countries in the world... I'm not surprised that our scholars and elites would settle for 1-2 children or none at all... we have state of the art health facilities but we have to be able to afford to enjoy it... just when I thought that the Government is so hard up for us to have children that the least they can do is keep it affordable. What about those who face complications with their pregnancies... again, the parents have to bear most of the costs...
Here is my typical weekday:
8.00am: Wake up
8.30am: Leave home
8.50am: Drop off son at childcare
9.00am: Reach office
6.15pm: Leave office
6.20pm: Pick-up son at childcare
6.45pm: Reach home
7.00pm: Have dinner (sometime I'm so tired, I will take a 1-hr power nap).
8.00pm: Spend time with family
9.30pm: "Me" time in my own room
10.30pm: Put my kids to sleep (most of the time, I sleep all the way too)
11.30pm: Spend time with wife (sometimes wife is busy with her own things)
By the way, I'm now staying with my parents as I need their help to care for my wife and newborn girl so you can imagine how much tougher life is if we had stayed in our own home in Sengkang... I've yet to think of a plan of caring for both children once my wife returns to work from maternity leave...
Having work in a primary school for the last 2 years, I really feel that Singapore is not pro-family. The Government expects all to work and support the economy but there are just not enough affordable childcare and student care centers to look after our children. Those days when we can rely on our parents to care for our children is almost gone. Even if they can, one must live nearby or have our own transport (let's not talk about the affordability of having your own car...)... I'm still a bit peeved with the Government for holding back the building of new HDB flats prior to the 2011 elections. After a disappointing election results for the ruling party, HDB built a shit-load of flats in just 2 years... grrrr...
I am not being ungrateful for the life I have now but I do feel for those who barely make ends meet with less than sufficient income...
(End of Part 1)