More than 4,000 ideas for S'pore jubilee baby gifts

More than 4,000 ideas for S'pore jubilee baby gifts

SINGAPORE - Gold coins, a year's supply of nappies and even free education.

These were among more than 4,000 public suggestions for gifts that could be given to Singaporean babies born next year - the Republic's 50th anniversary.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu said yesterday that the authorities will study the ideas before deciding what goes into the gift pack.

The Government announced two weeks ago that every Singaporean child born next year will receive a special Jubilee Baby Gift.

The National Population and Talent Division, which is leading the giftpack drive, has been gathering gift ideas online and at road shows.

Yesterday, the Government's feedback unit Reach set up a booth at the VivoCity mall to ask passing shoppers for their suggestions.

Ms Fu, who visited the booth, said the pack is likely to contain no more than 10 items.

The authorities will draw up a shortlist based on the suggestions and let the public vote on the gifts next month.

"We are not looking at, for example, free education and free childcare for the babies," Ms Fu said with a smile. "That will always continue to be something we pursue under our normal policies to encourage marriage and parenthood."

She added that the gifts should serve three purposes - to be celebratory, commemorative and of practical use to the baby's parents.

One item is likely to be a book. "Something symbolic to remind parents to spend time to read with the baby, that will be something in the package."

Ms Fu acknowledged that the gift pack is not likely to boost Singapore's fertility rate. "I am not looking to the baby gifts to improve the total fertility rate drastically."

But, she said, "I hope that some parents will think about the issue, about starting a family".

Singapore's total fertility rate - the average number of children born to each woman - was 1.19 last year, well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

VivoCity shopper Grace Teo, 43, suggested that a cast of the baby's footprint could be part of the gift package. "My three daughters had their footprints made into casts when they were babies and they were meaningful," said the housewife.

Also at the booth were civil servant Mustaffa Mohd Salleh, 30, and his wife Nor Shahirah, 25.

Mr Mustaffa suggested giving a baby Merlion because "it is Singapore's symbol" - though he said such gifts would not encourage them to have children for now.

"It is too expensive to have a baby in Singapore," he said. The public can suggest gift ideas until April 15 at www.nptd.gov.sg/jubilee

tohyc@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 14 in The Straits Times.

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