07 September 2012

Critical Thinking on Singapore Fertility 1 - Is it a problem?

The first thing that we learn about critical thinking is to question the claim. Low fertility rate is claimed to be a serious problem. On further questioning and thinking, the issue is really about preservation of this thing called "Singaporeness". In which case, the solution is not just about increasing fertility but about defining, propagating and maintaining this Singaporeness. Not finding the right problem will get us to find the right answers to the wrong problem!
This is the first in a series of Critical Thinking using Singapore Fertility as an example. It is a hot and important issue and we need to find the real problem and come out with the real solutions with the right thinking framework.

The reducing fertility rate of Singapore is getting much attention, especially when it was pointed by the former MM Lee Kuan Yew in the Aug 2012 Dinner. His quotes and the abstracted points are shown in the mind map below:

Begin with Questioning the Statement and Not Find the Answer

If you attend my thinking course, one of the first basic thing to learn is to question the claim. Why? How come? So what... For improving your thinking please see my Thinking Frameworks.

Singapore education system has placed too much emphasis on finding the right answers to questions set by teachers. Hence, it is very very rare that a student will question the question set by teachers. We bring this into the working life and we seldom question the boss' statement of a problem.

If you read the quotes of Mr Lee carefully, the main issue is not about fertility but about preservation of this thing of Singapore Cultures, ethos, codes, etc which I call "Singaporeness". This difficult to describe but can be felt kind of behavior that Singaporeans seem to stand for and be proud of. I talked about this Singaporeness in Looking at Singapore Immigration with a Yin-Yang Mindset.

If Preservation of Singaporeness is the Issue then Fertility Rate is a sub-Issue or even a none-issue.

Culture are usually and naturally transfer from one generation to the next. But there is a problem. The Law of Entropy from the Science seems to be applicable to the society as well. Without intervention, things naturally degrades and increases in randomness over time. So we find dilution of culture and values over generations. But we also noted that certain culture and races seems to have strength in the preservation of their culture. This is, to my limited knowledge and observation, the Jews, the Chinese, the Indians etc, those with a strong and long living culture are able to withstand the erosion of time. But those do not come by naturally. The Jews, Chinese and the derivatives had in their own Holy Books and Classics, the commandment to teach the next generation.

Hence, if you buy my point (which you need to question it first) that it is the preservation of Singaporeness, then the proposed solution will be:

1) Define what is "Singaporeness".
2) Teach, Memorize and Internalize it for individual.
3) Sustained with an Eco-system or Community. It is communicated, encouraged, values, codified in behavior, stop with mores, etc in our daily practice and behavior.
4) Improving the "Singaporeness"
Preservation should not be seen as just keeping the old standards but about improving the standards as well overtime.

What do your think?

Lim Liat (C) 7 Sep 2012

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