A Jubilee gift for next year's S'pore babies

A Jubilee gift for next year's S'pore babies

SINGAPORE - Every Singaporean baby born next year will receive a gift from the Government - to mark the nation's Golden Jubilee.

And the public will get a say on what it will be.

Sharing the news on the sidelines of a public focus-group discussion on the project last evening, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Grace Fu said that the gift is symbolic of what Singaporeans wish to give to the next generation.

"As we celebrate Singapore's past and honour the contributions of our pioneer generation, we also set our sights on the future," she said, referring to a new $8 billion fund to help those aged 65 or older this year with their health-care costs.

"We'd like to have parents if possible to keep this for many years and perhaps, for the baby to pass the item on to the next generation maybe 20 to 30 years later... and say this is what I was born with."

Asked what she herself might want as a gift, she suggested a sarong to wrap a baby in.

The National Population And Talent Division (NPTD), a division under the PMO, will develop the gift and launch a campaign to canvass for ideas from the public on what it should be.

The NPTD and an advisory panel - made up of experts who work closely with organisations linked to parents, families and children - will then short-list the suggestions and put them up for public vote.

In fact, the idea for such a gift came out of focus-group discussions with Singaporeans after the SG50 Steering Committee called for celebration ideas in January.

Many were "particularly enthusiastic about giving a small but meaningful gift from this generation to the next," said Ms Fu, adding that the public can submit their ideas on various platforms from now till 15 April.

There were 39,874 babies born in Singapore last year, a drop of 6.5 per cent from 2012.

Newly-wed Murshida Mustafa, 26, is hoping for the gift to be a voucher for baby necessities, as opposed to a memento.

"As parents, such a memento may be significant to us because we understand Singapore's history. But a voucher will be more useful for children," she said.

"As a mother, I also prefer a voucher. Having a baby is not that affordable."

Others like Ms Yeo Yang Min, 30, said that the gift was a "surprisingly kind gesture from the Government".

"I will keep it for the baby if I have one next year, and tell the baby he or she was born on the nation's 50th anniversary," said the engineer.

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