Student’s complaint: 99.95% mark too low (ST, Jul 12, 2012)

So, it seems like Singapore is not the only country in the world struggling with a massive grades obsession, though you can say that it’s an Asian thing. I guess the deeper issue in this article is that of discrimination (not racial) but against her disability. Nonetheless, it’s crazy the extent to which people will go to fight or that 0.05%!

Roadmap of Change for Malay Muslims (ST Review, Jul 12 2012)

  • The ability of Malay-Muslims to stay the course, without the gilded but ultimately hollow crutch of affirmative action policies, has been a crucial part of the Singapore journey.

  • The Government has encouraged each ethnic community, both financially and politically, to do as much as it can to help itself.

Boosting birth rate, but at what cost? (ST, Jul 11 2012)

  • MP Lina Chiam suggested having a baby drop – which Malaysia is now having. This is where young mothers can leave their babies anonymously in the hatch, instead of aborting them.
  • DPM Teo warned whether we ended up advertently encouraging unwanted pregnancies.
  • The government is going back to the drawing board and thoroughly reviewing its measures again.
  • In the Nordic countries, a large number of babies there are born to unwed mothers. NMP Janice Koh raised the possibility of us looking to strategies that mimic what Nordic countries are doing, to consider even babies born out of wedlock.
  • To what extent should we compromise on our values in our pursuit of babies? Should we pursue more births as an end in itself, or do we also need to care about what kind of society we end up with?

This seems to me to be a debate parallel to what happened during the IR. In pursuit of greater national goals (ultimately economic growth in that case), our moral values as a nation become something which is seen as a possible sacrifice. While I am aware that raising birth rates is one of concern, I am not certain that any measures which compromise our moral values are worthwhile. Firstly, they might not yield significant gains. Secondly, if we see family as the core unit of society, any measures that can be seen as encouraging children out of wedlock will compromise that belief and create an even more individualistic society. As it is, we are already seeing the backlash from the casino on our society’s values.

Essentially the birth rate issue is one of social compact. The essential struggle is with cost of living and of course, employability. The structure of our economy is such that SME’s dominate and in these SME’s, every single worker matters. Productivity is indeed a real concern. There is another sacrifice presented here then – are we willing to sacrifice productivity for the sake of raising birth rate? The sacrifice in this case is more palatable to me than the one of sacrificing our moral values.