Wei Siang Yu
Sex and the City-State
|Wei Siang Yu at work (AFP Photo).|
Trying to help raise Singapore’s record-low birthrate, this self-styled “sex guru” is promoting unconventional methods—from boat cruises to wireless hormonal monitors and, soon, reality TV.
Dr. Wei has emerged as a prominent figure in Singapore’s efforts to deal with what it sees as a national crisis. According to The Straits Times, Singapore’s birthrate of 1.4 children per woman is well below the 2.1 required for a population to replace itself. It recently hit a 14-year low.
The reason? Singapore is the victim of its own success. Instituted to curb a population explosion in the 1960s and ’70s, the city-state’s Stop at Two campaign worked all too well. In 1988, 52,000 babies were born in Singapore. By 2002, the number was 40,800, which means a shrinking work force for a nation of only 4.6 million people.
In response, the Singaporean government has been aggressively promoting ways to get its citizens to pair up and have babies. Pro-family initiatives have included everything from subsidizing candlelit dinners on Valentine’s Day to speed dating. Singapore has also turned to innovators like Dr. Wei for help.
Born in Singapore in 1969 as the youngest of six, Dr. Wei studied medicine in Australia. In 2001, he put himself on the map when Meggpower, his “bio-communication” company, introduced a hormonal monitoring service that text-messages or e-mails a woman when she is due to ovulate.
“My work in the convergence of information technology and life science can be of value in a country with a very small population,” he told World Press Review.
In 2003, Dr. Wei went low-tech, launching “love boat” cruises to an Indonesian resort. Late last year, in conjunction with the Singaporean government, he launched Baby Planning Camp. “In 2004, we’re starting a reality TV show called ‘Dr. Love’s Super Baby-Making Show,’” he said, stressing its “edutainment” value.
Dr. Wei has also gained a following for a weekly radio program called “Sex in the Air,” where experts answer young people’s questions about sexual and reproductive health. He’s able to connect with his audience partly because of his flamboyant image, bolstered by stylish clothes and dark-rimmed hipster glasses.
Even the bio on his Web site is unconventional. It looks and reads like a singles profile. Favorite color: Orange. Vital stats: 5' 9", 172 pounds. Hobbies: Swimming, taking nature walks.
Despite all he has done to bring Singaporeans together, Dr. Love remains single.