- Lee: Even a 'baby bonus' won't help
- Singaporeans going on longer trips to more exotic places
- SCDF issues fire safety tips for Seventh Lunar Month
IF former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew were in charge of Singapore today, he would have introduced a baby bonus equal to two years of the average Singaporean's salary.
This would not be to boost the country's abysmal total fertility rate of 1.2. Rather, Lee would do it to "prove that super-sized monetary incentives would only have a marginal effect on fertility rates".
Writing in his new book (pic), One Man's View Of The World, Lee makes clear that he would offer this huge baby bonus for at least a year.
The experiment will "prove beyond any doubt that our low birth rates have nothing to do with economic or financial factors, such as high cost of living or lack of government help for parents", he says.
Instead, it is due to the transformed lifestyles and mindsets which the Government is powerless against, he argued in the 400-page book that was launched yesterday.
Declining fertility was the biggest threat to Singapore's survival, he said.
But, Lee adds: "I cannot solve the problem, and I have given up.
"I have given the job to another generation of leaders. Hopefully, they or their successors will eventually find a way out."
In a chapter on Singapore, he also said the suggestion that the "Stop at Two" population campaign of the 1970s played a part in bringing fertility rates down is "absurd".
Rather, falling fertility is a global phenomenon due primarily to women's emancipation and participation in the workplace, he said.
The chapter on Singapore is one of 11 in the new book, which focuses largely on foreign affairs.
Lee covers regions including the Middle East and superpowers such as the United States and China, as well as issues like the future of the global economy and climate change.
He writes candidly about his past encounters with many world leaders and impressions of countries, but the bulk of the book looks forward as he sizes up these countries' strengths, weaknesses and chances of success.
He returns to the issue of low fertility often, pointing to it as the reason Japan, a country he once considered "peerless", is now on what he calls a "stroll into mediocrity". — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
FROM Turkey to Tibet – the travel bug has been biting Singaporeans harder than ever, thanks to low-cost airlines and a stronger currency.
Not only are locals travelling longer, they are also spending more by going to more exotic locations according to a straw poll conducted by the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas).
Last month's survey of 20 outbound travel agencies here found that a Singaporean who booked a flight in the first seven months of this year went away for an average of seven days. It was only five days during the same period last year, said Natas chief operating officer Anita Tan.
Travellers are also paying between S$1,500 (RM3,840) and S$2,000 (RM5,120) for their package or free-and-easy booking, an increase of 20% from last year's figure.
This was due to more Singa-poreans putting more unusual destinations, including South Africa and Mongolia, on their itinerary, said Tan.
The Maldives has been particularly popular. Its blue waters have pulled in 50% more Singaporeans over the past two years, with arrivals this year hitting 5,084 according to the government there.
Another hot spot was Turkey, which welcomed 10,364 Singa-poreans in the first half of the year alone, 22% more than in 2011, despite recent protests there.
CTC Travel, one of the major agencies here, had also been selling twice as many packages to Tibet and Mongolia as compared to last year.
"The low-cost carriers have really fuelled interest," said Alicia Seah, the firm's senior vice-president.
Chan Brothers highlighted a 20% rise in packages to the Maldives and a 15% increase to South Africa. Online travel giant Zuji had reported that there were triple the number of bookings to Male and Hokkaido from Singapore, according to a sales report released yesterday.
Eileen Oh, head of marketing and communications at ASA Holidays, which had seen bookings to Hokkaido surge by 30% for travel from now till year-end, believes that the strong Singapore dollar has helped to make longer-haul trips more affordable.
Jean Chia, 33, has opted for a week in Hokkaido instead of her usual three-day getaway in Kuala Lumpur.
"I want a different experience," said the baker, who is paying S$7,000 (RM18,000) for the trip for three. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
RESIDENTS are reminded to exercise greater caution when conducting religious rituals and activities during the Seventh Lunar Month which starts on Aug 7.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in a statement on Tuesday provided a list of fire safety tips for residents.
Tips include: Burning incense paper only in incense burners or metal containers issued by the town council; placing burners on sturdy ground and a safe distance away from combustible material; checking the area for smouldering incense or embers.
It added that all fires should be completely put out before leaving.
In addition, all lighted materials should not be thrown onto any grass patches and fields. — The Straits Times / Asia News Net-work
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