SINGAPORE – The Year of the Dragon is a good year to have babies, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as he focused on the importance of families at the heart of Singapore’s society in his annual Chinese New Year message on Thursday (8 February).
“One important element of family life is having and bringing up children. It is a great joy for parents to bring kids into this world and to watch them learn and grow, reaching one milestone after another and growing up year by year,” he said.
The dragon is a symbol of power, strength, and good fortune, and Chinese families consider a child born in the Year of the Dragon especially auspicious. “So now is as good a time as any for young couples to add a ‘little dragon’ to your family.” PM Lee - who was also born in the Year of the Dragon - added.
Efforts made to support parenthood in Singapore
This is not the first time that PM Lee has urged Singaporeans to make more babies. He had acknowledged before that the decision to have a baby is a very personal one, but given the declining birth rates in Singapore, he has continued to encourage couples to do so in what could be his final few months as prime minister.
“I still hope that more Singaporean couples will decide to have more children, and to have them earlier," he said, adding that couple may not realise “how quickly it gets harder with each passing year”.
Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), shared in Parliament in February 2023 that the resident total fertility rate (TFR) in Singapore dropped to its lowest-ever level of 1.05 in 2022.
This was partly because it was the Year of the Tiger, which generally has fewer births. Singapore’s TFR had increased the year before in 2021, but it was driven by a fall in the number of females of childbearing age.
With the lower fertility rates and longer life expectancies, the proportion of those aged 65 and above in Singapore is set to rise further over the next few years.
In his message, PM Lee also pledged to build a “Singapore made for families”, citing the recent change to double government-paid paternity leave from two to four weeks as one of the efforts to support marriages and parenthood. “I am confident they will find parenthood a deeply rewarding and fulfilling journey," he added.
PM ended by wishing all Singaporeans good health and a happy Chinese New Year, saying, “Entering the Dragon year, let us press forward with optimism and determination.”
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