Next time, check the 通书 first

Saw this letter on Straits Times forum.

Baby’s birth cert reverses parental joy
THE arrival of my newborn daughter was a source of joy for my wife and myself – until I went to obtain her birth certificate from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
To my horror, she was given the number T08-XX444X. As Chinese Singaporeans are aware, the number four suggests death, and implies misfortune.
I appealed to the ICA officer, also a Chinese Singaporean who understood my discomfiture. But she firmly rejected my plea because rules were rules, I was told. Subsequently, I appealed to a superior officer and waited an agonising week, making several calls in between, only to be given the same answer.
I grant that sticking to a system of rules is important. But so too is crafting exceptions which humanise the system.
My wife and I took great pains to craft our daughter’s name, consulting time-honoured cultural principles, because we wanted an auspicious life for her. Imagine having a birth certificate number like 444 which counters all that.
A birth certificate is a personal and important life-long document.
A system which forces officers to stick rigidly to the rulebook without due regard for cultural sensitivities is not a good one. Rules are made to serve citizens and not the other way round.
I’m not giving up. I hope that my daughter can be given a more appropriate birth certificate number and I’m not asking for very auspicious figures.
Joseph Tan

Joseph, Joseph…. Not I want to say you. But it’s your fault that you never refer to the 通书 (Chinese Almanacs) first before you make love with your wife. If you did refer to the 通书, it would have told you that it is not a good time to procreate as the ICA will give your child a NRIC number with T08-XX444X. In fact, you should also refer to the 通书 before queuing up at ICA. NRIC number is very important to a person. You as a parent should check the 通书 first before registering your child birth.
Actually, ICA also got mistake here. How can they use ‘4’ in the NRIC number? They should skip all ‘4’. (Don’t ask me what they going to do in year 2044.) In fact, they should also remove “13” and “666”. Did I miss out any unlucky numbers by other religions/races? I hope not. In fact, ICA can also provide special service and allow parents to choose “Golden Numbers” if they pay extra. I’m sure everyone will be snatching the XX88888 NRIC number. That should make everyone happy.
So remember, check the 通书 first.
PS From DK: Actually, ‘4’ is a good number in the cyber age. Just press SHIFT-4 on your keyboard and see what you get. 😀


  1. Lol… this is so funny! – I mean the Shift No. 4 thing.
    I hope there aren’t that many superstitious parents nowadays.. if not, we’ll have plenty of problems.
    Come to think of it, the ID number is so easy to remember!

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