23.8.12

«Vamos construir uma cidade e uma torre, cujo cimo atinja os céus...» (Gen 11, 4)

Going extinct is no fun:
"Lee Kuan Yew, the founding prime minister of Singapore, is one of the great statesmen of the 20th century. ... he turned a tiny, defenceless, impoverished, racially and politically divided island with no natural resources into an economic powerhouse.

... Singapore is a leading financial centre, is the world's easiest place to do business, is ranked number 8 in foreign exchange reserves, has the world's top-ranked education system, and is the world's least corrupt country...

But there is a cloud over Singapore's existence. ... In finances, Singapore is at the top of the league table; in fertility, it is at the bottom. With a birth rate of 0.78 it has been ranked by the CIA World Factbook at 222 out of 222. To compensate for the falling number of babies, Singapore imports people. About 35 percent of Singapore's workers are foreign-born and about 23 percent of all residents.

In short, like the great man himself, Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore is slowly dying. The government is trying desperately to boost the birth rate with generous benefits, dating services and louche advertisements. And still the birth rate falls.

Lee is watching this tragedy with tears...

Perhaps it's rude to ask this of a man mourning the mortal illness of a child whom he conceived, dandled on his knees and coached through adolescence, but who is responsible for this disaster?

The answer is Lee Kuan Yew. Great men make great mistakes. In the 1960s and 70s he worried about the Population Bomb and enacted stern population control policies. He encouraged sterilisation, urged Singaporeans to "Stop At Two", and imposed harsh financial penalties for those who didn't. By the late 80s, the government had panicked and changed its tune to "Have Three or More (if you can afford it)"...

It was too late. Singaporeans had acquired a taste for shopping and small families. Now their country's future belongs to immigrants and workers from nearby China, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia..."

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