Today, the Straits Times reports the official birth rate for 2005 in Singapore. Almost 15 months after Minilee's upsizing of the baby bonus in August 2004, the country's official bean counters report a staggering 1.13% increase in birth rates.
No doubt Minilee and Vivian Balakrishnan will stage a photo op at some hospital, with both of them in maternity dresses in a room full of newborns, and a huge banner overhead proclaiming MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Let me just disabuse them of the notion.
1. Over the past 20 years, annual increase in births ranged from 15% (Dragon year effect) to 2%. Minilee's 1.13% certainly sets a new record, for lowest birth increase!
2. The release by Vivian Balakrishnan, of a 3% increase in birth rate for the period of May to July 2005, was designed to be a 'teaser' of the immediate effect of Minilee's new baby bonus plans (i.e. couples who conceived immediately after the bonus was unveiled in August 2004). For the average figure for the entire 2005 year to whittle down to 1.13%, it means no one else was fooled into reproducing - aside from the few stupid Singaporeans who bred in that short period.
3. Our national propaganda press has been at it since last August, reporting anecdotes of couples giving it a go after Minilee's 2004 NDRS, to surges in hospital visits by expecting parents. As with all Leninist states, reports of good news to the Dear Leader
4. Note the figure for 2000. Mr Goh's baby bonus plan was unveiled in 1999, causing an 8% spike in births. Minilee has failed to beat his predecessor's plan, despite increased gifts to conceiving couples!
5. Gavin Jones of the National University of Singapore apparently believes that Minilee's baby bonus might take time to work, and looks forward to better figures next year. How very droll. I suppose he hasn't consulted the statistical records on the aftermath of Mr Goh's 8% spike: Birth rates have fallen steadily and continuously after 2000.
6. However, I'm waiting to see if Minilee will defend himself by saying Mr Goh had an unfair advantage (2000 was a dragon year!). This, of course, will invite questions from the public, such as: Why on earth did Mr Goh throw money at couples who were already going to conceive en masse anyway?
This will be very interesting, and I'll want to see how Minilee keeps the baby bonus failure out of national discourse.
Miscellaneous musings: What has happened to Singaporeans' will to live? Survival and reproduction being irrational urges that plague all living creatures, something has tipped Singaporeans to deny this Will, to seek permanent relief.
Is it life in industrial society? Or have our leaders failed to socialise Singaporeans, that they have become conscious of social reality, and hence rationally refuse to reproduce society by their refusal to reproduce?