Granting PR status to foreign spouses can raise birth rate

It was reported that there were at least 33,793 births last year ("600 more babies for SG50"; Feb 3).

Although this is an increase, the numbers could be higher if the Government did more to aid couples.

The trend of Singaporeans marrying foreign brides continues.

But the authorities certainly do not help couples in which one party is a foreigner.

Couples do not have the certainty to settle down to form strong family bonds if the foreign brides are made to return to their home country every so often, leaving their Singaporean husbands behind.

The Singaporean husbands have to go through a lot of hassle to apply for visa extensions or long-term passes for their foreign wives.

What is the issue behind all these requirements when couples are already married?

They want to settle down and start a family.

Not having a guarantee of being able to live in Singapore is a huge hurdle for many couples.

I am sure birth rates would increase even more if Singaporeans' foreign spouses are able to get at least permanent resident status after a year of holding a long-term pass.

Better yet, the Government should accord such women PR status when they marry a Singaporean.

I hope the Ministry of Social and Family Development will work closely with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to give couples a chance to form strong family bonds in order to boost Singapore's dwindling birth rate.

Raymund Koh Joo Guan