Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has expressed concerns over Singapore’s low fertility rate. He was speaking at the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru National Day celebration dinner on Saturday.
Mr Lee said Singapore’s birth rates have been steadily declining. He stressed that Singaporeans are not reproducing themselves. Giving some simple statistics, Mr Lee said the Chinese reproduction rate is 1.08 – with two Chinese becoming one in the next generation. For the Indians, the rate is 1.09, and for the Malays – 1.64.
“So our choice is simple. Either accept migrants at the rate at which we can assimilate them and make them conform to our values and have others on temporary work permit holders to help build up Singapore and improve,” said Mr Lee. But for the longer term, what’s important is to have a change in mindset.
Mr Lee said: “Our educated men and women must decide whether to replace themselves in the next generation. At the moment, 31 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men are opting out. Not leaving a next generation.
“So, just ponder over it and you will know the solution is not simple. But we’ve got to persuade people to understand that getting married is important, having children is important. Do we want to replace ourselves or do we want to shrink and get older and be replaced by migrants and work permit holders? That’s the simple question.”