Schoolgirls in Thai dance / BIGSTOCK

Like most places, the tropical paradise that was once the Kingdom of Siam suffers from the pandemic of modernism. A symptom of that affliction is not having children. Nestled between Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, Thailand has an exotic appeal to Westerners, a favoured destination for tourists desiring an “off the beaten track” experience. 

In 1968 the country’s fertility rate was 6.0 with a population of 34,800,000. That made for a lot of tiny tykes in Thailand. Just four years later (1972), the population was almost 40 million. Alarmed at the prospect of hordes of humanity unable to make ends meet, the government decided to do something about overpopulation. Thomas Malthus’s predictions about homo sapiens outrunning the food supply were very much on the minds of those charged with looking after the well-being of all things Thai. They even came up with a promotional slogan: “More babies, more poverty.”

It worked too well. While today there isn’t more poverty in Thailand, there are a heck of a lot less babies. According to a report from RT.com:

Whether as a result of the campaign or not, birth rates fell, and the country’s fertility rate has dropped nearly fourfold to 1.51 last year. The country’s National Economic and Social Development Council recently predicted that by 2025, a fifth of Thailand’s population will be over 60 years old, and that the nation’s total population will fall from 70 million to 40 million in the years thereafter. 

So according to the government there were once too many Thai children and now there are too few. Seems there is no happy medium when it comes to social engineering. Convincing people to change their habits is an uphill slog. Thailand’s current 70 million is expected to top out at 70,400,000 by 2028, declining to about 24 million by 2100, at least according to The Lancet projections. Nobody has a crystal ball.  

Those scary projections led the government to change priorities. In a recent interview, Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Public Health Satit Pitutecha said that recruiting celebrities, pop culture icons and other “influencers” to convince folks to have more children was “just one example of a change in values” being promoted by the government. “We must communicate through influential people in all walks of life [and] all family income bases” that the “concept of having a happy child” is “a good idea.”

Who could argue with that?

Yes, pro-natal “propaganda” is good for a start. People are plugged into popular culture through multiple devices, so enlisting pop icons to make it “cool” to have a family couldn’t hurt. Popularizing pro-family messages is a no-brainer. 

There are more ideas. The Thai government deems the country’s birth dearth sufficiently urgent that Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, head of Thailand’s Department of Health Service Support (DHSS), advocates reinstatement of commercial surrogacy, a practice banned in 2015 because, per BioEdge

…surrogacy rackets which traffic children across borders. Some gangs run nurseries or maid service companies in the country’s northern provinces as a front for transferring children from poor mothers to wealthy foreign clients, especially Chinese couples.

Not good. In addition, there are plans to further subsidize prenatal care, ratchet up social welfare schemes and double maternity leave from three to six months.

But that is not enough, and Deputy Minister Pitutecha knows it: “Money is not the only answer,” Pitutecha said. “This matter must be thought through the whole system. Values can be changed.”

No, Deputy Minister, values must be changed.

Our “modern” materialist, consumerist, globalist get-rich-above-all ethos is killing us. Familial love has been supplanted by an inward-looking mentality that views children as an impediment to financial wealth. Children are expensive, messy, misbehave and terribly inconvenient. They are no longer universally regarded as a divine gift.

How about the Biblical teaching that children are a blessing? Is that not wealth? Is not this belief shared by all religions?

Folks in Thailand need look no further than their own neighbourhood. Standards of living are rising throughout Asia, especially on the Pacific Rim. But Japan’s population shrinks every year, as does that of South Korea and now China. Taiwan is on the block, and even tiny Singapore can’t get folks to focus on the family.

This portends trouble. “Moderns” lack sufficient religious faith, national consciousness, family pride and hope for the future – to the point that they don’t even care about the continuation of their own kith and kin, the very survival of the species. And Asia is not alone. Europe and much of the rest of the world are following suit. People – and peoples – have lost faith, succumbing to an egocentric anti-natalist zeitgeist. 

For fertility to rise, people must change how they think about their families, themselves and their future before it is too late.

In a world without faith, that is a very tall order.

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Finally, a personal note: Whenever I hear about Thailand (the old Kingdom of Siam) the Bunker brothers come to mind. They came to America from Siam in 1829 and took the country by storm, amassing considerable wealth appearing before standing-room-only crowds. They eventually settled in my home state of North Carolina and married sisters Sarah and Adelaide Yates, siring 21 children between them. The Bunker brothers were close. They had similar personalities and shared common interests, hobbies and one liver. Yes, Chang and Eng Bunker were the famous “Siamese twins”.

Descendants of the famed Siamese twins in North Carolina. / SM Living

Their descendants include a passel of prominent people proud of their Siamese heritage, though today most look as Anglo-Saxon as Stonewall Jackson.

Louis T. March

Louis T. March has a background in government, business and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family...