Parliament Sitting on 9 May 2022

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

29. Mr Alex Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information with regard to the recent REACH survey on attitudes towards LGBTQ (a) what were the reasons for the unusually high volume of responses in a short timeframe; (b) whether the survey is restricted to only Singaporeans and permanent residents; and (c) whether the Ministry considers the survey results to be representative of attitudes towards LGBTQ due to concerns over the mobilisation of respondents by various groups.

30. Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information with regard to the recent REACH survey on attitudes towards LGBTQ (a) what are the considerations behind how the survey questions are structured; and (b) what is the usual process and typical timelines considered before the issuance of any surveys by REACH.

Answer:

1. REACH gathers feedback via multiple channels and from different segments of the community, so that all voices can be heard. Views collected by REACH are shared with relevant government agencies.

2. The channels employed by REACH include email, social media platforms, WhatsApp chatgroups and dialogues. One modality used by REACH is Listening Points (or LPs) – typically conducted in person or since the start of the pandemic, via online surveys.  They solicit views from specific groups with questions designed accordingly.  The findings from targeted LPs are therefore not taken as representative of the entire population.  For more holistic understanding, they are complemented by other sources of feedback.

3. Members Mr Alex Yam and Mr Zhulkharnain referred to a Listening Point to solicit views from the LGBTQ+ community. Similar LPs have been conducted to hear views from communities such as rental flat dwellers, pre-release offenders, and gig economy workers. We have also previously partnered other communities including religious organisations, women and youth groups, to seek feedback on particular issues from their respective constituents.

4. Consistent with the approach taken for such targeted LPs, the LGBTQ+ LP was conducted online and the link was disseminated through LGBTQ+ groups. However, unlike in previous online LPs, the link was circulated beyond the intended audience, which led to a large number of responses within a short timeframe. REACH received more than 36,000 responses within a day or so for this LP; for comparison, other LPs that REACH conduct typically gather about 200 to 700 responses. As the LP platform is open to all, respondents can be from any nationality.  But the majority of the feedback came from citizens and permanent residents, whose views are naturally the main focus for REACH and government agencies. Surveys based on representative samples that the Government commissions are of course restricted to the resident population.

5. REACH has received feedback about this LP, and acknowledges that it should be more careful when conducting LPs on issues where people hold sharply opposed and passionate views.  REACH will learn from this experience to better engage Singaporeans on contentious topics in the future.

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