All Singaporeans born next year will receive a special commemorative birth certificate as part of the Jubilee Baby Gift bundle to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday.
This was a suggestion of many members of the public, and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority is supportive of the idea, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu told reporters yesterday on the sidelines of a community event in Yio Chu Kang.
A booth was set up at the Mother's Day Carnival at Yio Chu Kang Community Centre to encourage people to vote for items that should go into the Jubilee Baby Gift.
Voting, which can be done online at the Jubilee Baby Gift site, will close on Thursday.
A shortlist of 15 items has been drawn up from about 6,500 suggestions submitted by members of the public. So far, about 15,000 Singaporeans have picked five items from the list to be gifted to newborns next year.
Ms Fu said practical items like a baby sling and multi-purpose shawl are currently in the lead, along with the commemorative medallion or coin.
As for help such as pre-school support and subsidies for school fees, which some have asked for, she said they should form "part of our overall review of (our) social system", and should not just be rolled out for those born in a special year.
She explained: "We're looking for something special, commemorative, but not necessarily expensive. Because while we want to make this a special year, a special gift, we also want to be fair to the other babies who are not born in this year."
Earlier in the day, Ms Fu fielded questions at a dialogue with residents and grassroots leaders in the area, accompanied by Ang Mo Kio GRC MPs Seng Han Thong and Intan Azura Mokhtar, newly minted Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, and People's Association chief executive director Ang Hak Seng.
High on the list of concerns raised was the cost of starting a family here, with residents suggesting that the Government raise subsidies for delivery costs and in-vitro fertilisation treatment for women who want to have children later in life.
Scrapping the maid levy for families who need domestic helpers to take care of infants or the elderly was another idea raised.
Ms Fu explained that there are already concessionary levy rates, but the levy cannot be completely lifted. Enhancement, she said, is instead focused on the Baby Bonus Scheme since some families choose not to hire a maid.
Residents also asked whether there were enough after-school care and childcare centres to help working parents.
The Ministry of Education is expanding the number of student care centres set up in schools, said Ms Fu. Over the next two years, 40 more centres will be added - to make 120 in total.
And by 2017, there will be 200 more childcare centres - which will be equipped to handle infant care, she said.
Ms Fu, herself a mother of three, also shared about how she struggled to juggle her career and her family.
She said: "We really need the whole community to be a supportive one so that young couples have the confidence and also the motivation and the desire to continue the love that their parents have given them."
This article was published on May 12 in The Straits Times.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.