Forum: Official responses to feedback can be improved

Government feedback unit Reach conducts regular surveys on key government policies. However, the response to feedback e-mailed directly to ministries leaves much to be desired.

Quite often, the main issues raised are sidestepped. A template reply listing a host of existing measures and programmes is given instead.

For example, calls for legislative deterrence against neighbours' second-hand smoke have been met with responses citing the "three-pronged approach" adopted by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment: increasing the sense of social responsibility, exploring ways to have productive conversations between neighbours, and studying how to better address disputes.

If these measures had been effective, there would not be such persistent discontent on the ground or requests for more concrete help to resolve this longstanding public health and public nuisance problem, which has been exacerbated during the pandemic with more people working from home.

Singaporeans do not feel that they are being listened to. The over 80 per cent of Singapore residents who are non-smokers suffer while the authorities issue standard replies and offer solutions that do not really solve the problem.

Liu I-Chun

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