OSC survey affirms Singapore’s conservative stance


Dave Wong

Published: 4:34 PM, August 30, 2013
Updated: 5:00 PM, August 31, 2013

I refer to the letter, “OSC survey result raises questions over S377A” (Aug 27, online).

It was argued that the justification for retaining Section 377A of the Penal Code may no longer hold true, as fewer than half of the 4,000 Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) survey respondents disapprove of gay lifestyles. This argument fails on several counts.

S377A is an existing law. Therefore, the burden of proof rests on those opposed to S377A to show that a majority of Singaporeans oppose the law. This was not reflected in the survey results.

Firstly, 47 per cent disapproved of gay lifestyles, while 26 per cent were accepting. For the purpose of determining whether society approves or disapproves of gay lifestyles, the comparison should be between these two categories.

Persons adopting a neutral stance (27 per cent) are not expressing an opinion on this matter. The Government, therefore, should not take their non-opinion into account when deciding where the majority lies.

Secondly, “gay lifestyle” is an open-textured term. It may be interpreted differently by different people, especially if it was not defined concretely in the survey. The Government should be cautious of such ambiguity when considering this survey result.

Thirdly, a greater proportion of respondents (55 per cent) disapproved of same-sex marriage, and only 21 per cent were accepting. This reaffirms the Government’s view that Singapore society is conservative, which our current laws rightly reflect.

The OSC Secretariat also noted common perspectives that had emerged despite the diverse views that were offered. A society with strong families and a society anchored to values were identified as Singapore aspirations.

It is appropriate here to echo what was said in the 1991 White Paper on Shared Values.

“In recent decades, many developed societies have witnessed a trend towards heavier reliance on the state to take care of the aged, and more permissive social mores, such as increasing acceptance of ‘alternative lifestyles’, casual sexual relationships and single parenthood.

“The result has been to weaken the family unit. Singapore should not follow these untested fashions uncritically.”

The OSC survey results show that Singapore has not moved away from the system that has worked for us throughout the decades.