- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Under the watchful eye of leader Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s authoritarian capitalist government over the last several decades managed to turn social engineering into a science — highly regulating everything from housing to littering. Despite their best efforts, though, the city-state’s technocrats haven’t had as much success in cracking the code of love.
In 1983, Lee declared that too few of his country’s eligible women — those with careers and university degrees — were marrying and having children. This led to the creation the following year of the government’s Social Development Network, an agency devoted to helping Singaporeans find Mr. or Mrs. Right.
The agency’s website offers young singles advice on everything from hygiene to dating etiquette. ("Guys, girls notice everything!" it advises.) Through its Marriage Central Advisory Board, the agency holds events to train young adults in the art of romance, including a yearly series of "Real Love Works" workshops promoting marriage. Other state-sponsored events include dances, wine tastings, cooking courses, cruises, and romantic movie screenings.
Unfortunately, the efforts haven’t been that effective. Singapore still has one of the world’s lowest birthrates. So in the lead-up to Singapore’s national day on August 9, candymaker Mentos is helping the Social Development Network (SDU) out with the music video above, complete with rapping and a Rihannaesque hook. Sample lyrics:
It’s national night and I want a baby, boo
I know you want it, so does the SDU
I ain’t merlion baby, this is national duty
Let me SMS the details of our late night dooty… call […]
Singapore’s population, it needs some increasing
So forget waving flags, August 9th we be freaking
Believe it or not, it gets more awkward than that.
Hat tip: Daily Dish