From an article with the same title in the March 10 (Wednesday) issue of The Straits Times:
"DON'T SINGLE OUT THE SINGLE WOMAN." That was the plea of some single women MPs yesterday. This growing group, said Ms Indranee Thurai Rajah (Tanjong Pagar GRC), are 'a little twitchy' about the signals that the Government is sending out with its strong pro-family stance. "They do feel a lot of pressure because they get the sense that somehow, it is not right for them to be single," she said.
Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) also cautioned against going overboard with the pro-family campaign, as it could imply that "you are a failure if you do not have a spouse or a family". The singles, she said, also make significant contributions by covering for their married colleagues when they take maternity or sick-child leave.
They also care for their elderly parents when their married siblings tend their own brood. These demands raise the work stress of singles, she added. "Hours at work will get longer. Chances to socialise and meet a partner will become even slimmer."
She thus asked for more generous tax rebates to singles who care for their elderly parents and disabled siblings, pointing out the tax relief on the foreign maid levy that working mothers now enjoy. Said Ms Ng: "Many do not choose to be single; many do not choose not to have children."
She added that if Singapore became 'so unwelcoming to singles', the danger would be that those who are professionals and mobile "will just take off to cities which allow them to live as they want to. And then we'll have another problem on our hands - of a brain drain."
THIS IS SO TIMELY, especially just after a witty comic strip by Lim Chee Chew in the papers last Sunday, parodying an on-going dialogue between the government (represented by a boss figure) and the people (represented by a married woman and a single man):
Woman: If I were to have a baby, I want more maternity leave.
Boss: No problem! Lee, who is single, will handle your workload -- in addition to his -- during your absence.
Woman: And if my kid is unwell, I want extra time off from work.
Boss: No sweat! Lee, who is single, will still be contributing to the economy.
Woman: Also, to induce me to have more children, I want more tax rebates; but.. will that eat into the nation's reserves?
Boss: No worries! That's because Lee, who is single, will still be paying taxes in FULL!
Man: Er, I can't afford a resale flat. Since new HDB flats are cheaper, may I buy...
Somewhat close to how i've been feeling these days. For some time, i've felt that singles are being treated like second-class people in Singapore. It's bad enough to be labeled as "being left on the shelf, on the lookout for a mate, selfish, lonely, workaholic, ecetera" by people with poor understanding. It's far worse and more disturbing to be discriminated by "the authorities".
Yes, the government has good reason to be very pro-family in its policies, but why can't a 'confirmed' single (perhaps age 40 and above?) buy a new flat which costs less and has better finishes? Yes, the mother needs time off to take care of a sick kid, but why can't the single also be given time off to take care of an elderly parent who lives with him/her?
Afterall, remember that all singles have families too in real life. They can be the caring aunt (or uncle), filial daughter (or son), and helpful sister (or brother). Many singles can be actively contributing to the well-being of their families, communities and society while happily living alone or with their elderly parents, and maximizing their own potential. On the other hand, many people can marry for the wrong reason -- such as money, looks, age (time was running out!), loneliness or (one of our Big Brother's carrots) a big, spacious and subsidized HDB flat. They can be selfish, quarrelsome or miserable. They can even abuse maids, care only for their nucleus family, be on the lookout for more partners, or (perhaps our Big Brother's nightmare) choose not to have any children!
For goodness sake, see, listen and relate to the real 'us'. Every person is unique -- a multi-dimensional person with distinct likes and dislikes, talents and weaknesses, intelligences and idiosyncracies... we're not cardboard characters with predictable behavior!
All said and done, if all you can see in a single woman (or man) are selfishness, loneliness, or some other form of neediness, may God bless you richly: you are truly our "Perfect Joy"!