Singaporeans enticed to get married via Facebook race

Sat May 16, 2009 10:25pm EDT
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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Singapore rewarded 10 young dating couples on Saturday for being the most popular "Beautifully Imperfect" pairs online, the latest bid by the city-state to get its citizens married at a younger age.

But the government-sponsored campaign made a last-minute change to the prizes, awarding a S$400 ($270) cash voucher for each winning unmarried couple instead of a stay at a beach resort suite -- a gesture to avoid accusations it was promoting pre-marital sex.

"Get married for heaven sake! Don't have sex before you get married," Malaysian film director Yasmin Ahmad, whose television commercial for the campaign has become a hit in Singapore media, said on a stage. "Get married and have children!"

The island state of less than 5 million people has launched various incentives to encourage Singaporeans to start families as it is quickly becoming an aging society, where people marry at a much older age and married couples tend to have few children.

The latest state-run campaign, which included Ahmad's 3-minute TV advertisement, attracted more than 370 contesting couples who posted their photos on the online social network Facebook, garnering over 10,000 votes in less than 3 months.

Contestants had to upload images and write about their "Beautifully Imperfect" relationship and then canvas for the most online votes for each week.

($1=1.471 Singapore Dollar)

(Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by David Fox)