Sex and Candy! (Happy National Night, Singapore!)
By Dave Fox
August 9, 2012
It’s Singapore’s 47th birthday today, which means all good Singaporeans will be celebrating with parades, fireworks, and hot, sweaty, Mentos-gobbling sexual intercourse.
Singapore, you see, struggles with a low birthrate. The government has been trying, with only limited success, to increase the population by encouraging Singaporeans (under certain, socially acceptable circumstances, mind you) to get out there and procreate!
Married couples are offered financial incentives to have babies. In what the government calls the “baby bonus” (babybonus.gov.sg), couples get 4,000 Singapore dollars (3,200 US) for each of their first and second children. Third and fourth kids net 6,000 Singapore (4,800 US) dollars a piece.
Parents can also open a “Children Development Account” for medical and educational expenses. The government matches parents’ contributions, dollar for dollar, up to 6,000 Sing dollars for the first two kids, 12,000 for the third and fourth, and if you are totally insane and/or just can’t stop copulating, 18,000 per child for the fifth and sixth.
Of course, in order for a nation’s married couples to have more babies, a nation must first have married couples, which is why the Singapore government also runs its own dating service. The “Social Development Unit” (SDU – later changed to Social Development Network or SDN) was founded in 1984 “to promote marriages among graduate singles,” according to a government website. A year later, they added a separate branch for “non-graduate singles,” and then, the website explains, “The two units were merged on 28 January 2009 to reap economies of scale, enlarge the outreach, and provide more opportunities for singles to meet.”
Reap economies of scale? Enlarge the outreach? RAWR!
But hey, if that doesn’t make you want to tear off your clothes and go at it with your graduate or non-graduate spouse, read further down the same page on the same website, to the part where the government explains the program’s “vision,” its “mission,” and — I swear the website says this — its “strategic thrusts”:
SDN promotes marriages through
- Creating opportunities for singles to interact through the 3Ps – Public, Private and People Sectors.
- Equipping singles with relationship skills.
- Inculcating a pro-marriage mindset.
Inculcating a pro-marriage mindset?! DOUBLE RAWR!!
With sexy talk like that, you’d think Singaporeans would be pawing at each other like rabbits in a Viagra factory, but no. According to Wikipedia (not always the most accurate purveyor of statistics, but hey, I’m writing this on a national holiday so these statistics are the best you’re going to get), since 2001, the Singaporean birthrate has only gone up by 0.2 percent.
Which brings us back to the Mentos gobbling.
As you will certainly understand, the Mentos candy company, being based halfway around the world in the Netherlands, is extremely concerned about Singapore’s declining population, which is why yesterday, it decided to step in and sexify this small island nation in a way the Singaporean government has not been able to … with a music video.
The video gives a shout-out to the Merlion, Singapore’s iconic half-fish, half-lion creature, and also makes references to government-subsidized housing (which 85 percent of the population lives in, and which is not available to single people living alone).
The song grows cringe-inducing with this line:
Like a government scholar, I wanna cram real hard
And tap you all night like an EZ Link card.
EZ link cards? They’re the magnetic cards used to get onto the subway here. If unsolicited groping on Singaporean mass transit increases in the coming weeks, we know why.
The song later refers to tau huay, a sweet, soft tofu pudding, like this:
Whether you’re about to get your tau huay, get your national night on.
Thanks for killing my dessert, Mentos.
Now, here’s where things get totally wacky: Rumors are swirling that the Singapore government might have been in on this project. In a nation that does not allow for complete press freedom, local papers are reporting Mentos (“the freshmaker”) produced the campaign on its own. CNN, however, is reporting, “It’s unclear if the government was involved in the Mentos have-sex-now-and-increase-our-population video campaign,” and Smithsonian.com states flat-out that Mentos created the video “in partnership with the Singaporean government.” A Singaporean friend of mine speculated on Facebook the video was “done by Mentos and I’m sure with the ‘blessings of the authorities.’”
Will the video work? Can a Dutch candy company hire a rapper with a distinctly non-Singaporean dialect to convince people here that tonight, after the National Day fireworks, they should race home to have unprotected sex? (Disclaimer on the Mentos website: “Financially secure adults in stable, committed, long-term relationships.”) I’ll let you be the judge and watch for yourself. Or… we can wait nine months and see what happens.
(Click the image below to watch the video.)