Singapore Baby Bonus insights
At the recent Working Mother's Forum, theAsianparent got the opportunity to catch up with Prof. Daniel Goh, head of NUH paediatrics department, who shared the pressures of being a Doctor-parent as well as his opinions on the recent Baby Bonus updates.
Dr Daniel Goh’s Insights…
TheAsianparent (TAP): Hi Dr Goh, thanks for agreeing to this interview. So tell us a little about your family.
Dr. Goh (D.G): I’ve got three boys- Wexford, 6, Westin, 10 and Wesley, 11. My wife, Mei Lin, 43, is a working mum. She works part-time as a Doctor in SGH.
TAP: Wow. Three boys, no plans for a girl?
D.G: We would like to have more children, be it a girl or boy. My wife would like to have a girl. It’s really very much up to God to bless us with one.
On Being a Doctor
TAP: So what are your typical working hours?
D.G: My working hours are pretty long, at least 12 hours. So by the time I get home it’s a quick dinner and then try and spend a little bit of time with the children. We believe in putting them to bed early, so by 9.30 they are prepared to sleep. They wake up pretty early to go to school, so we usually try and spend some time with them before they retire to bed.
TAP: So as a Doctor, every time your child gets sick do you get overwhelmed, since you are aware of all the things that could go wrong?
D.G: You’re absolutely right. People always say my kids are lucky because both parents are doctors and they don’t have to see doctors at all. However, at the same time, both of us have seen the worst that can happen and so we often do imagine the worst scenarios and get anxious ourselves. But, we are also very blessed in the sense that we have facilities and medications at our fingertips and so it’s a lot more accessible for us. However, sometimes it’s hard to treat your own children, so you need somebody that is impartial to come round to ensure we’re not missing anything. We usually bring them to one of our friends.
On The Economic State of Singapore
TAP: What do you think of the new Baby Bonus changes?
D.G: I think it’s a good. The key thing though, is that a lot depends on the individual. The responsibility shouldn’t be on the government itself. Hearing from friends I don’t think it would change peoples’ minds significantly just because these Baby Bonuses have come to place whether or not they have a kid. I guess it does nudge them a little bit along the way.
TAP:What about the economic recession?
D.G: It may change peoples’ minds about having children. However, recessions come and go, but the children are always there. I think the joy of having a child far outweighs all the depression that the recession might bring. In fact It doesn’t really cost that much to have a kid if you are prudent and reasonable with your choices.
TAP: If we compare ourselves to any Scandinavian country or even Australia, we still seem to be a far cry in terms of benefits. These countries offer 6 months to a year of maternity leave for example.
D.G: One thing for certain, our tax level is a lot lower than Australia. When you put everything in perspective and not just look at what is good in other countries compare it to what we don’t have and not to just focus on the negatives. Our overall package is fairly conducive.
On Singapore’s Population
TAP:The world’s population is growing faster than its resources can support it. Yet Singapore is encouraging more babies; are we being selfish?
D.G: I don’t quite agree with that view. I don’t think we are quite at that point in time, but with technology and research going on, we will be able to provide for the incremental growth of population in the world. Singapore’s not going to add a couple of millions of people to the world’s population. It’s not going to make a big impact overall to the global population growth, per se. I don’t think a population explosion is that critical an issue yet for us to restrict reproduction of mankind.
On Immigrants and Locals
TAP: If we subscribe to the fact that we’re technically all immigrants as Singapore is a young country, would it really make too much difference if we focus our efforts on bringing in migrants instead of increasing birthrates?
D.G: True to a certain extent but we need more young people to fill up the gaps of the future generation because of our aging population. We need the young people to be the grown-ups of the future and I always believe that people who grow up in our local setting, in our country, will be more loyal and probably feel more at home here than people who come in ‘ready-made’. I think that’s the difference.
The number in the population per elderly in the next couple of decades is going to be a lot fewer than what we have currently. The strain of the elderly is going to be significantly felt so I think we need to have young people to look after the older people and I don’t expect imported immigrants to look after our home-born elderly, so we still need to have our own local-born people. I don’t deny the fact that yes, we need foreign talent but I think boosting the birth rate is still a very critical part of our population strategy.
Dr Daniel Goh’s Insights…On Parenting
TAP: One of our concerns is that Singapore seems to focus just on procreation instead of parenting…like the whole Baby Bonus seems to be more focused on married women getting pregnant. What are your thoughts?
D.G: There are a lot of resources in place for the tween-age years and beyond. I’m not speaking on behalf of the government, but my personal perception is that we need to get the people to take the first step to have a child first. There are lots of resources and provisions in place for child-raising, child-minding, education. You do see a lot of changes taking place in the education system and all these are motivation to have more children and, eventually more young people in our country. The first step is the most critical. To get people to have children. Hence that appears to be the most prominent provision currently.
Do you agree with Dr Daniel Goh’s Insights? Are there enough resources in place for parents with older kids? Share your thoughts and grievances below. Dr Daniel Goh’s Insights can also teach the youth of today their important role in carving Singapore’s future. Do share Dr Daniel Goh’s Insights for other parents as well.