Straits Times has just reported on Tuesday (27 January) that a phone survey that was commissioned by government feedback unit Reach on the proposed bill to ban drinking in public and sale after certain timing, has shown strong support from Singaporeans.
The proposed bill will ban consumption of alcohol in public from 10.30 pm to 7am, and stop retail shops from selling alcohol after 10.30 pm. The proposed bill will also allow strip search by auxiliary officers and police officers to search for concealed alcohol if the officers have "reasonable doubt" that one might be in possession of alcohol.
The survey found 81 per cent of the 1,145 to poll in favour of the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill.
Straits Times further reported that Reach had said that those polled from Jan 20 to Jan 26 were chosen randomly and were "representative" of the national population in terms of gender, age and race.
The survey further stated that more than 8 in 10 of those surveyed did not think that their lifestyle and activities would be affected by the possible new regulations.
Former Nominated MP Eugene Tan said to Straits Times: "I believe the majority don't feel the restrictions are a curb since they don't drink very much. And the hours - 10.30pm to 7am - are when many of them are indoors. But for the younger ones, perhaps it will present an inconvenience. It is a drastic change from what they are accustomed to."
While some people online had described the new laws as too strict. Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Gillian Koh suggested that the views of some may have been over-represented online.
This might have been the case for views online when Straits Times's own survey on one of its article had shown an overwhelming disagreement towards the ban with over 9000 people being polled. (The survey result is no longer accessible on the page)
Many netizens are also questioning the neutrality of the feedback body conducting the survey.
Afterall, Reach is the same feedback body that gathered feedback for the Ministry of Home Affairs to indicate strong support for restriction to be placed upon the consumption of alcohol.
However, questionable methodology is said to be practiced by Reach and MHA in that two phases of feedback conducted.
During the two phases of public consultation by Reach and MHA, the general public and stakeholders were asked on their views on restricting public consumption of liquor; and shortening the sale hours of liquor at retail outlets.
Of the 246 written feedback received on this proposal in Phase I of the consultation, 83% of the respondents expressed support. In Phase II, 88% of the 43 written feedback received either supported a partial ban (by time or place) or a wider ban, where alcohol consumption would be banned in all public places at all times. Of the 624 persons who participated in the e-poll, 88% were also in favour of implementing the restrictions at congregation areas.
As the consultation was conducted on the basis that one would write in to support restriction, the number of feedback received would only mean support for restriction for either full or partial restriction. While those who did not write in, either might indifference or disagreement with the restriction.
Therefore if we were to literally take the results of the consultation by Reach for what it represent, it would only meant just 0.007% of Singapore population supports the idea of alcohol ban/restriction, since no one else was bothered to reply to MHA and Reach's question.
It is a wonder on how could MHA use a consultation conducted by a government feedback agency that has only 241 written entries in support of the full/partial restriction of liquor selling to support the idea that the majority population of Singapore agrees to the proposed bill and attempt to bulldoze their way through parliament just because the ruling party has majority vote.
This should be another proposed bill after the population white paper that ought to be counted in votes to see exactly who are the Members of Parliament who support this piece of draconian legislation.
TOC has also written on the choices of answers offered to the members of the public who are polled. (That alcohol ban poll – can I even say “No”?). A survey with flawed or leading questions would have the respondents to answer in a certain desired manner. And should we also ask if the respondents were told that police and auxiliary officers would be given powers to conduct strip search too?
The proposed bill will be debated in the parliament on Thursday this week.