Sunday 3 February 2013

Population solution: Baby, you can be my car

“It’s all your fault,” he said.

Huh? What I did do now?

I had just bumped into an old friend from the navy while I was jogging and already he was blaming me for stuff.

He was complaining about having to deal with full-time national servicemen in the navy who are permanent residents and can’t speak English.

It’s because of Singaporeans like me who aren’t having enough babies, he said. So we don't have enough Singaporeans doing national service to defend the country.

That was when the magnitude of Singapore’s population problem finally hit me. I felt like running home and procreating with my wife at that very moment.

And then I remembered she might want to cuddle afterwards and I changed my mind. I think Singaporeans would have more babies if women didn’t like cuddling afterwards so much.

Or if men didn’t mind cuddling afterwards so much.

Actually, it’s not even the cuddling that I mind. The problem is I don’t know when I can stop cuddling.

At least for sex, there’s a clear end point. But cuddling can go on indefinitely.

It also occurred to me that if we have another baby, my wife would want me to do the night feeding again and I hate night feeding even more than I hate not knowing when to stop cuddling.

Anyway, we already have two kids, but apparently two isn’t enough for my navy friend, who has three. What is this? A competition?

Moreover, my wife and I are in our 40s and too old to have any more babies as tempting as the recently announced $8,000 baby bonus cash gift for a third child may be.

And then I read that my former MediaCorp colleague Gurmit Singh and his wife are having their third child even though he is 48 and she is 43.

And that was even before the $8,000 cash gift was announced. What is this? A competition?

The baby is due at the end of next month, according to xinmsn. They already have a daughter, 16, and a son, 12.

Gurmit posted on Facebook: “We are gonna have a new baby soon... And I don’t mean a car.”

Was that second line really necessary?

What if the Phua Chu Kang star had just written: “We are gonna have a new baby soon”?

Would people think, oh, Gurmit is getting another Lamborghini?

Yeah, I guess they might.


Wheels are turning in my head. (And they are not on a Lamborghini.)

I just figured out how to get Singaporeans to reproduce like rabbits.

You know how the Government has been dishing out monetary incentives like baby bonuses over the years to encourage Singaporeans to have more babies?

Yet our fertility rate remains too low.

On the other hand, the certificate of entitlement (COE) prices for all car categories have risen to over $90,000 and yet, despite the increasing cost of owning a car, the vehicle population continues to grow.

Which means the Government has been going about this whole baby thing all wrong.

Instead of trying to make it cheaper for Singaporeans to have babies, the Government should be making it more expensive!

We just need to make babies more like cars. (Thanks for the idea, Gurmit.)

Forget baby bonuses. The Government should be introducing baby COEs.

There could be a category A for baby girls, a category B for baby boys and an open category for both sexes.

By controlling the supply of baby COEs, the Government could create more demand for babies.

Under this Baby Quota System, children who are three to 10 years old must be certified roadworthy every two years while children over 10 must be inspected annually.

There could be a road tax for each baby, the amount of which is determined by the baby’s birth weight.

To address environmental concerns, hybrid babies could get special tax rebates, not that I have any idea what hybrid babies are or how they’re better for the environment.

I think parents should also be required to pay ERP charges for each child they enter the CBD with, although I foresee some resistance to installing In-Vehicle Units on babies.

But if we stick to the plan and stay the course, I believe there will be a surfeit of babies in Singapore in no time, thus allowing the creation of a used baby market.

So to Gurmit and my navy friend, I may not have any more babies myself, but my proposal would create more babies for Singapore than both of you ever will.

Not that we're competing.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 February 2012

UPDATE: Gurmit Singh welcomes third child