For an oldie like me, being made to witness PDA (public display of affection) on public buses and MRT can be a little uncomfortable. It is not that I think the behavior is absolutely wrong but coming from an era when teenagers holding hands can raise eyebrows, it just shows me how much things have changed in Singapore. If such incidents are not enough to convince you, there are the dramatic stories and scandals that have broken out this year that should convince you that something has fundamentally shifted in in our society's moral values.
If you look for reasons there are probably many factors that contributed to the current state of affairs. Westernization is often blamed but today in China, society is riddled with vice and corruption. Consumerism and materialism - the endless advertising on our media telling us that we should spend our way to happiness. The PAP govt didn't help the situation by building casinos, allowing too many abortions in the past for the purpose of controlling population and pursuing a course of development that seems to put economic growth above everything else. Income inequality is sometimes considered immoral[Link].
Link] is that going to work?
Many years ago, a brave and controversial NUS student union leader decided to give out condoms at a student event. His decision was greeted by opposition from various quarters. He argued that safe sex was necessary to prevent the negative consequences of immoral behavior e.g unwanted pregnancies, diseases etc while his critics argued that his decision sent the wrong message and would encourage bad behavior. At that time I couldn't decide which side was correct. The PAP has a very consistent and conservative approach to this. They discourage 'bad' behavior by making people live with the consequences for the behavior. Single mothers miss out on benefits given out to those who have children, AIDS sufferers do not get subsidized medicine. One Nobel Prize winner was surprised when she visited Singapore because she found that those who contracted HIV have no access to subsidized medicine when even countries like Cambodia offer free treatment.[French expert says HIV infections in Singapore higher than France]. The PAP approach would be considered workable if it yielded good outcomes but it doesn't . For the past 10 years as the HIV infection rates has fallen in most countries including Malaysia but has been rising steadily in Singapore:
In a recent parliament sitting, MPs discussed the plight of divorced parents being forced by the courts to sell their flats and then facing a 30 month (2,5 years) debarment that prevented them from buying or renting a flat from HDB[Link]. While Minister Khaw is sympathetic to the plight of these people, he also said this:
'We must not unwittingly compromise on the promotion of marriage and mutual family support that we have long held " - Khaw Boon Wan.
By helping those who face housing issues due to divorce, he fears that 'promotion of marriage' will be compromised. I wonder how much sense that makes to you? By making divorce more painful by way of housing disbarment, more people will stay married and get married? Couples whose marriage have fallen apart due to infidelity and other reasons will stay together just to keep their HDB flats? By putting these broken families through more strain are we not putting the children at risk? Khaw then went on to say he was willing to help a few genuine "special cases" as if the majority of divorce couples get a divorce so they can abuse the housing system! Look at the divorce chart again and the rising trend, if govt does not become enlightened fast, an underclass among those in broken families will grow.
If govt does not change its approach soon, we are going to lose the battle on 2 fronts. While morality continues to decline and we do too little to mitigate the negative effects declining morality, we will see an expansion of the problems in our society.