In an interview with government-controlled media Channel News Asia, Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Tan Chuan Jin said that the ruling PAP Government will still not support equal rights for single parents because it is not the “norm”:
“Is it an indication or signal that we condone single-parenthood? That is something that you bear in mind. I do believe that society is sympathetic to single mums but we also need to be careful not to appear to encourage it as something that you could do.
We do see in other countries, individuals choosing as a matter of lifestyle: ‘It’s ok, I’m not married, but I don’t mind having a child.’ I don’t think we are there yet as a society. I’m sure there will be individuals and some who may disagree, but I don’t see that as a norm and I don’t personally feel that some of these changes would open the floodgates if you will, for that particular lifestyle to develop.”
Single mothers in Singapore get half of the 16-weeks maternity leaves enjoyed by married mothers. They are also not entitled to Baby Bonus cash gift and Handicapped Child Relief. Minister Tan Chuan Jin also said that he will announce new changes to existing policies to “help” the single mothers before Budget 2016, but rules out allowing them to have equal rights with married parents. Going by Minister Tan Chuan Jin’s logic, it appears giving these single parents equal rights will result in an increase in the number of single parents and that married couples become single parents out of choice and not circumstances.
Minister Tan Chuan Jin comforted single mothers and their children saying that they still have access to healthcare and education opportunities:
“It’s about healthcare availability, it’s about education opportunities and the support that comes with it…
For example, all mothers, including unwed ones are currently eligible for infant care and childcare subsidies. Government-funded education programmes are also extended to all children.
I’ve not met a single child who is not going to school because they couldn’t pay school fees. Schools fees are provided for. Uniforms are provided for. School books are provided for. Pocket money.”
Single parents and their children in Singapore are however still required to pay the equal amount of taxes and serve National Service, even though they are entitled to less.