Monday, September 8, 2008

'Illegitimate' baby boost: A view from England

Sep 8, 2008

HERE I am in England nursing some painful cold symptoms and with a business suffering from the credit crunch, yet I feel the need to respond to Dr Andy Ho's article last Thursday advocating illegitimate babies to enhance fertility in Singapore ('The (illegitimate) way to more babies').

Perhaps if Dr Ho lived in Britain (as I do) and paid British taxes (as I do) to fund the feckless and irresponsible lifestyles of young and older mothers who have children out of wedlock by multiple partners, his article might not have seen the light of day.

I am a volunteer - at the coalface, if one may call it that - at a parent-and-toddler group in the local community. Here, I meet all sorts of parents and carers of young children.

Although a child outside wedlock has lost its stigma, such children still grow up with many emotional issues resulting from living in single-parent or 'reconstituted' families.

While the British government gives generous financial support to young parents (for example, free childcare while they continue with an education), many of these young people simply 'play the system' with no intention of coming off welfare. It is too easy to fall into that rut.

Statistics may show a 'healthier' fecundity rate.

The crime rate, drug-abuse rate, alcohol-abuse rate, school drop-out rate, teenage mother rate and the number who are 'unemployable' (as opposed to 'unemployed') together paint a very different picture.

Please, let us not replace one set of problems with another.

Dr Lee Siew Peng
Middlesex, England

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