Derision greeted the news that a government agency promoting marriages in Singapore has launched a scheme for people to give “dating cash vouchers” to single friends or relatives.
Valued at $10, each voucher can be purchased online and be used to offset the cost of events and services offered by agencies accredited by the Social Development Network (SDN).
Yahoo! Singapore readers who responded to this news, however, said it would be “insulting” to give or receive such vouchers.
Facebook user Rokiah Iz said, “To give a ‘social gift voucher’ to our single friends is ridiculously a personal insult, and for SDN to suggest it to us buying it as a gift for them is an insult to our intelligence.”
Another reader Yap Ri Hao said, “That’s like the same as telling your friend: ‘Oh I’m so sorry to hear you’re single, hope this helps.’”
User Jerry Xie said, “Well, I sure I don't want to receive this or want to give it as a present.”
Others were more skeptical of the scheme, and questioned whether this was just a ploy to sell tickets.
Facebook user Paul Tay dismissed the scheme as “just an excuse to use the service of the sponsor agencies”.
Speaking to Yahoo! Singapore, CEO of dating agency Lunch Actually, Violet Lim, said that it is expected that different people would see it differently. But she added that the social stigma associated with dating agencies have declined over the years.
Lim said that while majority of her customers remain in the 30s, her agency is seeing a 10 to 20 per cent increase each year through the last eight years in the number of youths in their 20s participating in such social activities.
“I think it’s because people start to see it as something fun, like another way of expanding their social circle. So they don’t see it like a ‘last resort’ like in the past,” she explained.
Lim added that her agency has had in the past recent years received such requests, albeit not a lot, on such dating vouchers.
However, whether the single introduction of these vouchers would cause a significant impact on Singapore’s total fertility rate is difficult to assess, said Lim.
“It’s hard to say like this particular initiative would make a difference, but I think ultimately it’s about everything put together.”
Government leaders have vowed to do more to push up Singapore’s total fertility rate of 1.2 per cent, one of the lowest in the world and far below the replacement rate of 2.1 per cent as the country grapples with an ageing society.
The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit a new record high of 371 at 1pm on Thursday, again climbing into the "hazardous" range of above 300, according to data from the National Environment Agency (NEA).