Yet another year has gone by – we hope it was a productive and prosperous 2015 for you and your loved ones! Although we typically wish for the best at the start of each fresh year, things don’t always pan out the way we want them to during the course of the year. With regards to the domain of the family, 2015 saw a mix of all flavours – the devastating, the dramatic, the adorable, the promising and the terrifying. Here’s a round-up of the notable family-related events of 2015!
1. Bidding Farewell to A Founding Father
23 March 2015 is a date all Singaporeans will henceforth remember – the day we received the news of our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s demise. As the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining”. Our first Prime Minister’s passing brought about the opportunity for Singaporeans from all walks of life to reflect upon the astounding achievements our nation has seen over the past fifty years. It was also a memorable display of the unwavering unity of Singaporeans in times of distress. Mr Lee will always be remembered by all Singaporeans.
2. Foreign Worker Saves Toddler In Danger
This controversial incident had netizens up in a storm after a video of a foreign worker rescuing a toddler went viral on the net. The Indian national had been hailed as a hero after he climbed to the second floor of a HDB block at Jurong East Street 32 to save a toddler whose head was stuck between the rails of an external clothes drying rack outside the service yard. The lack of proper grilles to ensure the safety of the child was what many Singaporeans were highly concerned about, and that got many tongues wagging! We sure hope something like that doesn’t happen again!
3. The Sabah Earthquake Tragedy
Burying a child is something absolutely devastating beyond words for any parent. That is what seven pairs of parents did earlier in June this year. On the fifth of June, seven pupils from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) in Singapore were climbing Mount Kinabalu when a 5.9-magnitude quake struck, killing them. Two of their teachers and a Singaporean adventure guide with them were also killed. Twenty-two pupils, six teachers and two Singapore guides who were also on the school expedition survived.
The pressing issue which took centre stage was that of the nature of the expedition and whether it was entirely necessary for mere 12 year olds to embark on it. As with all debates, parents were divided on the matter. A ship is of course safe at harbour. But that’s not what ships are built for, are they?
4. Mums vs. Maids: Who Knows Better?
Here’s another one that went viral on the net and got the keyboard warriors talking. (or typing, rather) A two minute-long video featured interviews with mothers, children and their maids. Through a series of questions and answers, it showed that domestic workers understood their employers’ children better than their employers. Some, who felt that the video portrayed mothers in a bad light, criticised it to no end. Others, however, said it reflects the sad truth of some parents relying too much on their maids to look after their children.
But, we are still trying to figure out how that links to the aim of the video, which was reportedly to urge employers to grant their domestic helpers a day off every week. Hmmm.
5. Children to Have A Voice in Divorce Cases
Without a doubt, children are the true victims of a divorce. But children whose parents are divorcing now have a voice as they are being consulted by the Family Justice Courts (FJC) on how the separation is affecting them. Since 2011, the FJC has made it compulsory for all divorcing couples with children to attend counselling and mediation sessions at its Child Focused Resolution Centre. This is to help them work out care arrangements for the children, instead of fighting over them in court. This is definitely a move that will be welcomed by anyone who cares about child welfare. A step in the right direction!
6. Extra $2000 for Baby Bonus Cash Gift
Some extra cash never hurt anyone, right? The Baby Bonus cash gift has been increased by $2,000, and will be given out between the first 12 and 18 months after a child’s birth. The Medisave grant for newborns will also be raised by $1,000 to a total of $4,000, which will help pay for their Medishield Life premiums and other medical expenses. Families with Singaporean babies born on or after 1 January 2015 are eligible for these measures. Yay to being an SG50 baby! On a side note, let’s hope that this helps our dwindling birth rate!
7. The Birth of A Trendsetting Princess
Sure, little princes are cute. But we all know that little girls are sugar, spice and everything nice! On the second of May this year, Britain welcomed its newest princess, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, to much fanfare. Although big brother Prince George will be king one day, his baby sister is where the money is! The youngest member of the royal family will be worth nearly $5 billion to the British economy, according to Brand Finance. (golly gee!)
The “Charlotte effect” has also brought a huge uplift to fashion and other brands the little princess has worn or been associated with. We will be sure to keep a lookout for the next fabulous outfit little Princess Charlotte wears!
8. A New Inclusive Playground in Sembawang
Singapore’s first “inclusive” playground which caters to children with special needs was ready earlier in April. At the 600 square metre playground in Canberra Park in Sembawang, there are wheelchair-friendly features such as a ramp and handrails, panels with bells and drums to cater to the visually handicapped and swing seats that can secure children with physical disabilities.
Among the regular slides, swings and an overhead ladder, there is also a sensory motion feature which allows wheelchair users to sit inside and experience a swaying sensation without having to transfer out of their seats.
We are truly heartened by the opening of this amazing playground! The next step would of course be to give these children all the encouragement and support they need to get out there and have a good time!
9. China’s New Two-Child Policy
The month of November saw Beijing abolishing its highly controversial “one-child” policy to allow all couples to have two offspring. An estimated three million extra babies will be born each year following this implementation. Decades of strict and sometimes brutal enforcement has left the world’s largest population of 1.37 billion people ageing rapidly and with a shrinking workforce that has heightened the challenges of slowing economic growth. Let’s hope that 2016 will be a better year for the Chinese.
10. Benefits for Single Mothers Reviewed
A mother is a mother, whether single or unwed. Thus, single mothers too deserve the same benefits which their married counterparts receive. This is the argument put forth by many social welfare activists, following the announcement that benefits for single mothers are to be reviewed by the government. One key discrepancy in benefits? Unwed mothers are given only eight weeks of paid maternity leave, instead of the sixteen weeks received by married mothers.
Unwed mothers also do not get perks such as the Baby Bonus cash gift and parenthood tax rebates, and have to wait till they are 35 years old to buy a HDB flat under the singles scheme. That sounds a tad unfair to us, and we sure hope that things start looking up for single mothers in 2016!
SingaporeMotherhood wishes all its readers a very Happy New Year! We hope 2016 will be a fabulous year for you!