My wish for S'pore is...

My wish for S'pore is...

A face-to-face survey of 4,000 Singaporeans provided an insight into what Singaporeans want of themselves, their society and their Government in 2030.

The survey, part of the Our Singapore Conversation process, also asked what they want now to achieve the vision of My Singapore in 2030.

In our increasingly simplistic black-and-white world, there are only two options - you are either for or against an issue.

And it took Reef, my 12-year-old boy, to remind me of this.

Take this question for example: Are we a conservative society because about five in 10 said no to the gay lifestyle in a survey by Our Singapore Conversation (OSC)?

About three in 10 had said yes.

My son said we're not conservative if the other five in 10 didn't say no to a gay lifestyle. He makes a good point.

There are other points to consider - how are conservatism and homosexuality linked? And what exactly is the gay lifestyle. Do gays shop or brunch differently?

Interpreting surveys is a lot like reading tea leaves. You bring into a reading your experience, culture, religion and everything else that influences you.

To borrow French philosopher Michel Foucault's argument of power relations and discourse, you see what you have been conditioned to see.

Those against the gay lifestyle are likely to interpret the result as "See, most people are against it". Those for it will say the survey design was flawed.

Now, we jump to the other question - are we a gay lot or, phrased another way, are we happy? Previous research suggests we're an unhappy lot.

Using a Twitter qualitative survey, Grey Singapore found we are increasingly unhappy, with happiness levels falling from about 53 to 45 per cent.

The company conducted the research between December 2011 and March 2012.

But the OSC face-to-face interviews suggest we're more than likely to be happy. And moving forward, we're likely to stay happy.

Online, on anti-happy sites (everything about Singapore sucks), many expressed unhappiness at the OSC findings.

And since we know misery loves company, they want many to agree with them.

Of course, me arguing that the unhappy lot exist in a different domain and describing these people as "them" is problematic. I'm unhappy sometimes too.

There will never be a perfect survey method. Online surveys are flawed. If you don't have a Twitter account, you can't take part in a Twitter survey.

And how do you check a respondent's nationality in an online poll?

But face-to-face surveys can be intimidating. Are you honest in such surveys or do you say what you think needs to be said?

So don't be for or against such survey findings. Don't oversimplify our world.

Sure, nearly six in 10 may not agree with the gay lifestyle.

But is there a chance we can all agree to accept people's choices, and be happy about what we have here?

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