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The more the merrier

  • It is not a question of who's right or wrong but a matter of individual's choices.

By CHEN YOKE LIN
Sin Chew Daily

Sin Chew Daily's healthcare site Easily is churning out a new series of articles on infertility in view of the fact that many young Chinese Malaysians are suffering from this problem even though they want to have children.

This phenomenon could have something to do with pressure and modern lifestyle.

As we were planning for this series, a piece of news broke through that despite the fact Malaysia's population is expected to breach the 32 million mark later this year, the percentage of Chinese population in the country continues to slide, from about a quarter to 23.2%.

By contrast, the percentage of Malay population is expected to soar to 68.8% while that of Indian Malaysians remains at a low of 7%.

Against this backdrop, Easily is taking the opportunity to present contents designed to encourage Chinese Malaysians to have more children.

We have drawn up a slogan: the more the merrier. But, this remains just a promotional slogan, and from the feedback I get from readers on Facebook, there are generally two extreme schools of thoughts.

Some are of the opinion that the continued slide in ethnic Chinese population will have a bearing on their status in the country because the quota system is still very much applicable in the government sector and the cake is to be distributed squarely on ethnic ratios.

Meanwhile, another group of readers believe that the strength of an ethnic community should not be determined by its sheer number as it is the quality of the people that really counts. They think a larger population will only consume our limited resources as the world is already overpopulated and many underdeveloped countries are struggling with perennial food shortage problem.

So, it's a "quality" vs "quantity" thing. As a matter of fact, there are many factors that have contributed to the steady decline in the Chinese population in Malaysia, including environmental and personal factors as well as individual choices.

Easily will tackle this issue from the medical perspectives to equip prospective parents with the necessary medical knowledge in relation to pregnancy.

As for those who have opted not to have children, they are not to be blamed as they should have the right to decide what they want for their own lives.

The fertility series will include contents on natural pregnancy, test tube babies, prenatal care and confinement, as we interview healthcare personnel as wells as first-time parents who share with us their experiences and joys of awaiting the arrival of a new life.

A colleague told me while the initiative has been good, "the more the merrier" slogan could meet with some backlash and resistance from young people already under tremendous pressure from their parents to have more children.

Well, I think the readers should not feel offended as the series is designed to provide the essential info to young couples intending to have babies while giving them moral support and helping expecting mothers overcome the various physiological and psychological changes they might experience.

Sure enough children should not be exploited as a tool to fight for more political interests. Our slogan is meant to help create a merrier family atmosphere and fortified family bond with the arrival of new siblings.

We hope this slogan will not be overinterpreted by the readers, thinking that on the issue of fertility among Chinese Malaysians we stress only the social functionalities at the expense of family bond and care. Actually we are more concerned about the passing down of family values from one generation to the next.

Traditional Chinese parents have yearned for large families but the youngsters are more inclined towards small or child-less families owing to stress from day-to-day living. As a consequence, conflicts could break out between two successive generations.

Even as the issue could spark arguments between individuals from different generations, as a Chinese language media company that has the local Chinese community and Malaysian Chinese family structure close to its heart, we still feel that this matter should be brought up and get the attention of the public.

It is not a question of who's right or wrong but rather a matter of individual's choices. Those craving to become new parents should be encouraged to do so while the decisions of those not wanting to have children either out of personal choice or other reasons must be respected too.

Easily will introduce in late September a new series to encourage Chinese Malaysians to have more children. It is our sincere hope that those who prefer quality to quantity will not see this as an added pressure.

 

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