PM encourages Singaporeans to have more babies

Mr Lee with young children at a sand box in Teck Ghee Community Club yesterday. The Prime Minister was happy to learn that a Healthy Baby contest held there attracted 145 baby contestants, almost double the number of participants last year.
Mr Lee with young children at a sand box in Teck Ghee Community Club yesterday. The Prime Minister was happy to learn that a Healthy Baby contest held there attracted 145 baby contestants, almost double the number of participants last year.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Teck Ghee Community Club was abuzz with fun, games, and cries of dozens of babies yesterday, as families living in the constituency took part in a Healthy Baby contest.

In all, 145 babies took part in the contest - almost double the number of participants last year.

This cheered their MP, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who said: "I hope by the time we have another baby show next year, there will be new participants!"

He was glad to note, as he toured the various activity booths, that he saw some "akan datang - mothers who are already expecting".

He hopes Singaporeans will have more babies as "it is part of being a family and having a full life".

The Government, he added, had introduced several measures in this year's Budget to support families with children. These include the First Step Grant, where parents will get $3,000 for their newborn's Child Development Account (CDA).

The CDA is a special savings account where the Government matches parents' deposits, up to a ceiling. It can be used for childcare fees and medical expenses.

There is also KidStart, a pilot programme for children from low-income families to get learning, development and health support.

Yesterday, the community club in Ang Mo Kio GRC also organised a carnival to let young children try out different activities. They built shapes using sand in a small pit, and played percussion instruments with their parents.

About six in 10 of the young tots in the contest yesterday were SG50 babies, born last year when Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee.

Their parents helped contribute to the nation's record 33,793 Singapore citizen babies born last year, a 13-year high that exceeded even that of the 33,238 births in 2012, a Dragon Year which the Chinese consider auspicious for births.

"Last year, we had a bumper year," Mr Lee said, as he urged parents to help bump this figure up even further.

"I hope you all work harder and make further progress!"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'PM encourages S'poreans to have more babies'. Print Edition | Subscribe