As Ashley Madison, the world’s leading extramarital dating website, announced its plans to expand to Singapore, our minister for social and family development Chan Chun Sing was roused into making the following proclamation on Facebook:
“I do not welcome such a website into Singapore. I’m against any company or website that harms marriage. Promoting infidelity undermines trust and commitment between a husband and wife, which are core to marriage.”
The Minister’s personal views on marriage and infidelity are his prerogative.
And yet his Ministry has been sorely lacking in leadership on the following aspects:
- Wherein the real gross monthly income of our lowest 20th percentile of employed residents rose only 0.1% each year from 2002 to 2012 (link)
- Where an estimated one-quarter of Singapore households would be under the poverty line, if we indeed had one (link)
- Where his Ministry’s professed pro-family policies have arguably led to myopic national policies in housing, marriage and fertility — through their inability to include or even consider more socially progressive definitions of family
- Wherein he still oversees the archaic institution that is the Social Development Network whose sole aim to ‘promote marriages and nurture a culture where singles view marriage as one of their top life goals’ has no role to play in 21st century Singapore’s marital or fertility choices, leading one to conclude that even if we cannot fix our present day fertility shortfall, our stubborn efforts to continue to search for solutions with 1980s blinkers (fertility measures which failed back then, by any measure), can only signify acceptance of failure or a complete lack of gumption or courage or innovation or all of the above
- Not to mention our anecdotal problems with problem gambling among the lower income classes (see first point about dismal rise in income for these groups) — but such stats are not available — yet going by the anecdotal number of anti-loan sharking signs in the heartlands these days it isn’t hard to make an educated guess;
With all of these in the bag, I would rather this Minister focused on actually fixing our social problems than pre-empting one through empty Facebook-moralizing — especially when the would-be adulterers have avenues other than Ashley Madison to carry out their own personal choices.
And in the periphery, we apparently now also live in a Singapore where Christian fundamentalists are still allowed to hijack the national agenda for sex education and even the employment act these days, leading one to conclude that if the shining stars of the PAP’s fourth generation are such, and our current crop of opposition leaders are what they are, perhaps I would much rather live in a country full of adulterers with conviction who know how to get what they want (at least we can maybe have more babies!), than one led by moralising leaders with no ideas nor even the ability to get things done.
Stop talking, stop moralizing — the institution of marriage isn’t going to collapse, the internet isn’t going to break, our children aren’t going to go out and have affairs in droves, MILFs aren’t going to pop up around every street corner (if only they did!) — just go fix the problems we elected you to fix, please.