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?

My Wishes

The top five things I want are:

■ Job security

■ Healthcare

■ Housing

■ Safety and security

■ Caring government

My son's education

I want a more holistic and less competitive education system for my children over one that is globally competitive and academically rigorous (56 per cent). 26 per cent prefer the opposite.

Should smart kids only learn with other smart kids? No, I prefer a more inclusive system. Include kids with different abilities and backgrounds (56 per cent).

My Values

I want a Singapore that has a sense of community, That means people are filial, honest, gracious and polite. Accumulating wealth is not as important to me. I also want people to be patriotic and feel safe with laws that protect us.

I'm not ready to accept the gay lifestyles (47 per cent). 26 per cent said they are ready to accept. I accept that younger and more educated people are more likely to find the lifestyle acceptable. But they, like me, are not supportive of same-sex marriage (55 per cent). 21 per cent are supportive.

As far as the balance of freedom of expression and censorship is concerned, it's a split in my family. 37 per cent lean towards complete freedom of expression even at risk of social tensions. 40 per cent want limits to that freedom.

My Life

I want better work-life balance. I want to spend more time with my children. It doesn't matter if I'm just starting out at 25 (56 per cent), mid-career at 41 (61 per cent) or about to retire at 56 (61 per cent). It also doesn't matter if I'm single (57 per cent) or married with children (62 per cent), I pick pace of life over my career.

My Government

I feel the Government should take more responsibility to provide for the people (45 per cent). In this aspect, I'm more like my dad and his generation (50 per cent for those aged 50 to 69). But I know the younger generation think people should take more responsibility for themselves.

So how to pay for the Government to take care of us? Well, I'm not in favour of paying more taxes ( 42 per cent).

I also want a Government that understands the concerns of Singaporeans and does a good job explaining policies.

My Neighbourhood

I want eldercare facilities in the neighbourhood. It doesn't matter if I live in a flat (more than 80 per cent) or landed (82 per cent), or if I earn less than $1,000 (59 per cent) or more than $10,000 (62 per cent), I want the eldercare facilities in the neighbourhood so it's convenient for me to visit my dad and for him to visit us.

I also want green and heritage spaces to be preserved.

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