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|SINGAPORE—When this small Asian city-state celebrates its independence Thursday, Singaporeans are encouraged to show their patriotic fervor by displaying their country's flag proudly, sharing snapshots of their favorite local foods and dancing along to a fresh new national theme song.|
But there is another, distinctly unofficial, national song in Singapore these days. It is asking locals to try something else on their country's big day: Make love for Singapore.
The soulful rap, which is part of a new ad campaign to promote Mentos mints, is called "National Night," and it exhorts Singaporeans to "do their civic duty" to help solve the city-state's low birthrate by making a baby on Aug. 9.
"It's National Night, let's make Singapore's birthrate spike," a female vocalist sings over jittery synthesizers and drumbeats, as her male counterpart shouts phrases like "that's right" and "the birthrate won't spike itself!"
"Singapore's population, it needs some increasin', so forget waving flags, August 9th we be freaking," the rap continues.
The song has gone viral, taking on a life of its own on social networks across the famously staid city-state. It is also raising the eyebrows of older residents who fret that it is mocking a serious issue.
Singapore's leaders have worried for years about the country's birthrate, which is among the lowest in the world at 7.72 births per 1,000 people, according to 2011 estimates from the CIA World Factbook. That means the country's population would keep falling every year if authorities didn't let in immigrants—a policy that doesn't go down well with many locals, who say they resent new arrivals who take jobs and strain local resources.
The government has tried just about everything to get the birthrate back up. It has offered "baby bonus" tax breaks and government-paid maternity leaves to new mothers. It has also set up a special government unit, the Social Development Unit (SDU), now renamed the Social Development Network, to help singles meet and mingle. Thanks to the unit, locals can sow the seeds of romance at government-subsidized speed dating events and salsa dance classes.
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