For Kids and Country

I’m really fortunate that the government’s policy increasing the amount of paternity leave from 5 days to 10 days coincided with the birth of our 3 child. This change gave me more time to be with my family and support HY as she looks after our daughter. It’s a step in the right direction, encouraging fathers to take a more proactive role in raising their kids, and I’m so grateful for it. Considering how the government is encouraging Singaporeans to have more kids, I’m sure they’ll continue to provide more incentives for fathers and mothers in the years to come.

In fact, thanks to both the boosted paternity leave and the unconditional childcare leave, I’ve been enjoying 4 day work weeks since Chloé was born. And all the way till the end of the year actually! I get it though, I work in a government job and am thus more able to benefit from such pro-family measures. Even though my work is still tough, I’m not constantly pressured by unrealistic deadlines or chasing lofty financial goals that my friends in the private sector are subject to. From what I remember, it was all dog-eat-dog out there, and I don’t miss it one bit.

Not everyone has the good fortune to prioritise the raising of their kids. 

The cost of living in Singapore continues to climb (food, housing, education, daily expenses) and I’m ever mindful that the good times don’t always last. If we get hit by another recession would we be able to weather it? Recent data shows that the selling price for condos is dipping as demand starts to wane, no doubt in part due to the cooling measures the government put in place to curb speculation. But this has definitely hurt developers, builders and, by extension, the economy as a whole. 

Singapore is also extremely sensitive to changes in the economies of our larger neighbours. Malaysia is in a bit of bind with all the focus being on the Prime Minister and the mishandling of the 1MDB funds 1. Indonesia’s economy is also slowing as the President’s efforts to stimulate the economy don’t seem to be working; his attention has been directed to the haze and the region is now focusing on how Indonesia plans to deal with this in years to come. 

Even our big brother China isn’t immune to booms and busts. Their economy has also slowed and I wonder if their intense effort to weed out corruption isn’t a clever ploy to divert people’s attention away from larger issues like the economy2. Their leader is now traveling around the world visiting and renewing strategic and economic ties with different countries; showing how no country, not even China, will do well to forget it’s neighbours. 

As a small country we are even more reliant on good relations with our neighbours. But in recent years, thanks to our wealth and success, we’ve been able to negotiate terms more in our favour. In fact it’s surprising to see the number of foreigners rushing here to do business — a remarkable reversal of roles — and they really do come from all over the world. It’s not unusual to find an European shop assistant working alongside a Filipino, Japanese or French chefs sweating over stoves or American chiropractors plying their trade. And so Singaporeans have affirmed their status as first world citizens as they bicker over how jobs are being lost to foreigners. 

All this is my round about way of saying that life here is good now. 

We in Singapore are enjoying a time of relative peace and prosperity. My family gets to benefit from this stable political and economic climate as we go about our daily lives. And, more personally, I get to enjoy watching my kids grow up in a safe and secure environment. 

I don’t know how long we can enjoy this, no one except God can see the future. I just know that we have it now — and I’m going to make the most of it while it lasts. 

  1. I really can’t wait to see what he has to say. 
  2. Probably not but it’s fun to speculate sometimes.  

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