The problem is often stated in terms of national security: Fewer marriages "impede efforts at nationbuilding and may even threaten the country's survival," says one SDU brochure.Many Singaporeans, though, believe that the SDU's creation was prompted less by the overall drop in the birthrate than the relatively higher birthrate among the country's poorer Malay minority.It is easy to see why: The SDU's publications frequently read like advice for the lovelorn written by a bureaucrat.For example, the SDU published a new brochure last month, called "The Chemistry Guide: When Boy Meets Girl,'' focusing on the overworked, the shy, and the "cosmetically challenged." The guide reminds hopeful singles that "Skin-care products are must-have investments" and "There's no bigger turnoff than a foul mouth, reeking with leftovers from lunch!The current racial balance about 75 percent Chinese, 15 percent Malay is important to the government.Singapore's Chinese majority is one reason the state split from its confederation with Malaysia in 1965, following race riots.Karen Ralls-Tan remembers a time when her dating prospects were bleak."It was just hard to meet people," says the 31-year-old civil servant.
Lee said in his national day speech in 1984, the year the SDU was created.
About 3,600 members of the program married last year, Since its inception, the SDU says 50,000 Singaporeans have been married through its offices."The government isn't holding guns to people's heads it recognizes that marriage is a deeply personal choice,'' says Pamela Pung, an SDU spokeswoman.
"This is just a way of widening the circle of opportunities."Ms.
Whether the evils of a local slang "Singlish" or the need to flush toilets after use, no social issue is too big or too small for government intervention."People actually think that the state knows best,'' says David Jones, a Southeast Asia expert at the University of Tasmania in Australia.
According to the government, alarm over a low birthrate prompted the creation of the SDU in 1984.