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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.
On the other hand, the government fears that relying on immigration to close the gap will dilute a sense of nationalism in a city-state dwarfed by neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia.
Ralls-Tan credits the SDU with helping her find her husband.
Four years after signing up for its computerized matchmaking service, a marriage adviser called her with "the perfect guy." They were married in 2000 and now have a 6-month-old girl."Without the SDU, we never would have met,'' says Ralls-Tan, laughing. We'll have at least three."Currently, the average Singapore woman has 1.6 children 2.1 is the rate demographers think Singapore needs to maintain its population without immigration.
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.