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Sat, Jan 31, 2009
The Straits Times
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Singles to get more matchmaking help
by Theresa Tan

THE two government matchmaking agencies, the Social Development Unit (SDU) and Social Development Service (SDS), merged yesterday, giving members a wider pool of singles to choose from.

With the merger, there are now about 90,000 singles looking for potential mates in the combined database.

Besides a larger dating pool, the new entity, tentatively named SDU-SDS, plans to ramp up its activities, such as speed-dating sessions and sports classes, to help singles meet.

The organisation will also work with companies to explore ways to help busy working singles find that special someone, said its head, Ms Jennifer Wee.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the merger during the National Day Rally last August, saying the aim was to 'increase synergies' between the two agencies.

Already the two have been organising joint activities, with singles now more 'open' to meeting others with different backgrounds, said Ms Wee, who met her husband at a friend's wedding.

The SDU, which had 21,000 or so graduate members, was started in 1984 to address the problem of fewer female graduates getting married.

In 1985, the SDS was set up to promote marriages among non-graduates. It had about 68,000 members.

Since then, 53,000 SDU members and 133,000 SDS members have tied the knot.

But their work is far from over. The proportion of singles in Singapore has increased steadily over the years.

For example, the proportion of single men in the 30 to 34 age group jumped from 30.7 per cent in 2000 to 34.7 per cent in 2007.

Faced with the reality of more people heading into old age alone, SDU-SDS has decided not to have an age ceiling.

'We want to cater to all singles. If singles come with an open mind, the opportunities to meet others are still there,' said Ms Wee.

Another barrier coming down is the difference in educational qualifications between mates.

A pronounced trend in the 1980s was that of men preferring less-qualified brides and women the opposite, which led to a preponderance of unmarried women graduates.

Ms Wee said that singles are now more receptive to meeting others with different educational backgrounds, though there will still be activities for graduates who want to meet other graduates.

Singles interviewed gave the merger the thumbs up, saying that a wider pool of singles increased their chances of finding a partner.

Many felt that the chemistry and character counted more than educational qualifications.

Said Mr Gavin Liow, a 25-year-old graduate: 'At the end of the day, I don't think qualifications matter a lot if you don't 'click' or share the same interests.'

This article was first published in The Straits Times on Jan 29, 2009.

readers' comments
What's wrong with male non-graduates marrying female graduates?
Posted by A1Team on Sun, 1 Feb 2009 at 01:03 AM

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