From time to time the former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had amused Singaporeans with his gaffes or his balderdash. Quite often he prided himself with commanding the world audience with his so-called bombastic world view of politics but it is a different story with the Singaporean audience who view his so-called pearl of wisdom with cynicism except his die-hard supporters. He likes to believe that he is popular with and liked by Singaporeans but he has only to surf the internet to see the kind of "tributes" that netizens heaped on him. Perhaps it would be an eye-opener to his loving daughter to surf the internet to see for herself the kind of uncomplimentary remarks on his eminent father before she extols his so-called virtues in her writings. These praises cut no ice with the discerning Singaporeans who have ceased to be mesmerised by his so-called charm.
It has been his character to write books about himself, among other topics, in order to boost his standing locally and world-wide. In his latest book entitled One Man's View of the World, he had the impudence of commenting on the sensitive and much criticised subject of Singapore abysmal 1.2 fertility rate. He was the prime minister in the 1970s when he decreed the "Stop at Two" population policy and he now has the gall to say that the suggestion that his campaign of the 1970s played a part in bringing fertility rates down is "absurd". He attributed the falling fertility to global phenomenon due primarily to women's emancipation and participation in the work place. Does he honestly believe that discerning Singaporeans will believe and accept his incredulous and untenable explanations? It is in the man's character to disavow responsibility even in the face of glaring facts that the "Stop at Two" policy was the main cause of the current low fertility rate. Perhaps he is deaf to the curses of Singapore women who had suffered deeply by his "Stop at Two" policy. He is equally blind to the caustic criticisms going round, especially among the netizens, that he is responsible for the low-fertility rate because of his "Stop at Two" policy.
The former MM admitted that he could not solve the low-fertility problem and had given up. He had pushed the job of solving the problem created by him to another generation of leaders and hoped they will eventually find a way out. If he were in charge of Singapore today, he would introduce a baby bonus equal to two years of the average Singaporean's salary. The PAP Government has tried all kinds of incentives, including monetary and paternity leave, to try to restore the low fertility rate to its normal replacement level of 2.2. However, all these efforts appear to have fallen on deaf ears as the fertility rate shows little improvement. And the Government is left with no alternative but to fill this gap by immigration with all its attendant shortcomings. Whether the present PAP Government will be able to solve this intractable fertility problem is taxing the mind of the PAP leaders. No one has come forward with a rational solution to this problem so far.
Meanwhile the former MM Lee Kuan Yew's book was launched at the Istana today to great fanfare.