The challenges of the decreasing total fertility rate (TFR) and an increasing ageing population have a major impact on the sustainability of our economy, security and society (Increase subsidies to raise fertility rate: MP, Feb 28).
To resolve these challenges, we should not just look at relieving the financial burden of raising a child. In fact, the more we harp on the requisite expenses, the more couples may become unduly concerned about having children.
We need to develop a culture that promotes the joy of parenthood, and help couples realise that having children can add happiness, excitement and fulfilment to their lives.
Educate them such that they will have no unnecessary worries about the child-bearing and child-raising processes.
We should also bring back the "gotong royong" spirit so that family members as well as friends and neighbours will encourage and help one another to bring up the children.
We cannot develop such a culture using a top-down approach.
We need to rope in key stakeholders from the public, private and people sectors so that with more people inspiring and encouraging couples and offering essential support and services, we will be in a better position to increase our TFR.
If it takes a village to bring up a child, let's make Singapore the best village to bring up a child.
Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)