Mar 26, 2011
Participants will be taught how to matchmake their single friends
An SDN survey of 1,500 singles last year found that:
- Almost half felt the best way for them to find a partner was through friends
- One in 10 said their family's informal introductions would be the best way to find a mate
Married couple Ian Lin and Liang Yiwen (background) brought their friends Tom Ng and Lio Weiyun together. Mr Ng and Ms Lio are now engaged. Ms Liang feels that pairing two people is a matter of common sense. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
FRIENDS and relatives of singles are being sought after to play Cupid.
The Government, anxious to get more people hitched and into nesting mode to arrest the falling birth rate here, even wants to help them learn the fine art of matchmaking.
What love is about, the science of attraction, how to set up their friends with panache, and the advice to dish out on what to wear and what to say on that first date - these are topics to be covered in a course run by the Social Development Network (SDN) and to be taught by counsellors or social workers.
It will cost an aspiring Cupid about $20 to learn the moves.
The reason the course is targeted at members of the public is that singles prefer to meet a potential partner through family or friends.
A survey by the SDN last year found that nearly half of the 1,500 singles who responded wanted to meet that someone special through friends; 10 per cent preferred introductions through family.
Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Yu-Foo Yee Shoon said yesterday at the opening of Real Loves 2011, a week-long slew of events to celebrate marriage, that the pilot run of the course in July will be for marriage solemnisers, because they already show an interest in helping others find love and can spread the word about the course to grassroots workers.
Mrs Yu-Foo said families are now smaller and rely less on the ties that used to bind entire kampungs and spurred villagers to step in to matchmake eligible men and women in their midst.
Today, formal channels like matchmaking agencies do the job, she said.
She had some numbers to show that the exercise is more than a passing amusement: The number of singles is growing. They now make up 32.2 per cent of the resident population aged 15 and older, up from 30.5 per cent in 2000.
If the 61-year-old sounds evangelistic, it is because her own marriage is the result of a crack-shot Cupid. She said she met her husband Yu Lee Wu, now a 64-year-old retired professor, through friends.
Meanwhile, among those who are already playing matchmaker are some who are open to attending the course.
Credit analyst Liang Yiwen, 27, and her research-engineer husband Ian Lin, 28, already claim one success in matchmaking - without formal training: Their friends Lio Weiyun, 27, and Tom Ng, 28, who they brought together last year, are now engaged to be married.
Ms Lio, a human resources executive, and Mr Ng, a bank analyst, met during preparations for the wedding between Ms Liang and Mr Lin last October.
Ms Liang said: 'I'd find out from Weiyun how she felt about Tom, and my husband would tell him. They were shy so we became the middlemen, relaying messages to the other party.'
Ms Liang said she would consider attending the course, although pairing two people was a matter of 'common sense', and the fee may be a deterrent.
Online media-firm manager Yang Huiwen, 24, agreed the fee was a turn-off but thought some tips were worth picking up, going by her 'zero success rate' with matchmaking five couples.
The chief executive of Lunch Actually, Ms Violet Lim, said she does not feel threatened by the programme because a dating agency like hers offers a wider pool of contacts than friends or family can.
'Friends may be well-meaning, but they have their own lives and jobs so the help they give may not be consistent. I think, ultimately, it's good to equip those who are interested in matchmaking with skills, because we all want to see singles married off as well.'