My letter on the above matter is published today in The New Paper, Monday 20th August 2012, page 20.
Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew recently expressed concern that Singapore’s low fertility rate can lead to enormous problems.
While the Government can put in place material and economic measures to motivate couples to get married, the general feeling is that many of our younger workers, including professionals just do not have time on their hands to enter the bonds of marriage, let alone make babies.
With the present fast-paced working life, many of our workers are stressed out from their demanding jobs which sees them putting in at least 10 hours a day to meet pressing deadlines.
Under some circumstances, it will be difficult to get people to see the importance of marriage and starting families.
To encourage young people to embrace marriage and produce children, I suggest that the civil service implement a half-day off in the middle of the week.
This will allow our young people sufficient time to relax and recharge, paving the way for marriage and procreation.
Productivity and efficiency of public service will not be compromised if flexible arrangements are made with some staff taking half a day off on Wednesday afternoon and the other half on Thursday morning and commencing work at 2pm.
Taking the lead
If the Government takes the lead in implementing the proposed mid-week half-day off, the private sector will mostly likely follow suit, or at least can be encouraged to do likewise.
The other important aspect in encouraging young couples to tie the knot is for healthy marriages to be promoted by the Government and the local media.
Marriage must be viewed as an essential institution for a successful society, bringing the blessing of children into our lives.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO