The Government’s feedback arm, REACH, has drawn some backlash online after it released the results of a poll claiming that two out of three Singaporeans support the Government’s recent ban on Swedish black metal band Watain, whose permit to perform here was abruptly cancelled on the day their concert was supposed to be held.
Days after the concert was cancelled, REACH conducted a Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview poll from 11-15 March and randomly polled “about 680 respondents” above the age of 15.
The feedback unit reported that 63 per cent of all respondents – or about 428 out of 680 individuals – were aware of the Government’s decision to disallow the band’s concert. Out of these 428 individuals, 64 per cent (or about 274 respondents) backed the Government’s decision to disallow Watain from performing here.
64 per cent of the 63 per cent who were aware of the issue does not amount to two in three supporting the Government. If only 274 individuals supported the Government’s decision out of 680 respondents, this means that only about 40 per cent or two in five people support the Government – not two in three.
This constitutes a minority, not a majority like REACH painted. Pointing out these figures, Facebook user Lisa Lee suggested that this could mean that the “2 in 3” notion is a “misrepresentation” of the actual findings of the poll.
Lee, who analysed the poll in detail on social media, also pointed out that the REACH poll also showed that only 26 per cent felt that performances that may impact religious sensitivities should be banned, while 66 per cent of respondents felt that those performances “may be allowed but with specific rules to disallow offensive content”.
Among respondents aged 60 and above, a higher proportion of 47 per cent felt that these performances that could impact religious sensitivities “may be allowed” provided there are rules to disallow offensive content.
Noting that the Watain concert was already strictly regulated and rated R18 before the abrupt cancellation, Lee wrote:
“All this suggests to me that RESPONDENTS DID NOT KNOW that the Watain concert – had it gone ahead as planned – was already strictly regulated to disallow offensive content, and they assumed it was going to be totally unmoderated, full of hateful/offensive speech etc.
“So how exactly was the question phrased in this Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview? Were clarifications provided if people had questions? None of that information is provided in the REACH report.”
“This also suggests to me that people at REACH and everyone else who has used the survey are not bothered by this strange discrepancy.”
Highlighting that Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam cited the results of the REACH poll in Parliament on the day the results were published, Lee continued:
“The survey concluded in 4 days. The same day REACH published these results, the Minister used the REACH survey results to state that “the Government has a responsibility to not just the individuals who like Watain music, but also the majority of Singaporeans who would be offended.”
“The mainstream media went ahead to headline articles “Parliament: 2 in 3 Singaporeans in REACH poll supported the Government’s decision to disallow Watain concert” etc, all supported by this “evidence”.
“Is it fake news or real news if the survey results are accurate but obtained from people who didn’t seem to have the full picture? And what do you do when it seems to be government agencies that are propagating misinformation/disinformation?
“All the more chilling to read this alongside yesterday’s fake news bill, in which “the Government will make the decision on what is deemed false under proposed laws to fight the spread of online falsehoods” and “General exemption: The Minister may, by order in the Gazette, exempt any person or class of persons from any provision of this Act”
“Where are we headed to, Singapore?” -TISG
Read Lee’s post in full here:
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