Last of the millennials

19+ Worldview survey: More consultative government, please

From their wish for a more consultative style of government to their career aspirations and opinions on marriage, the reactions of these 19-year-olds to a survey done on people of their age could provide some insight into their generation.
Like 51 per cent of the respondents, Ms Aneesha Moneesh Khanna, who is studying sociology and economics at the Singapore Institute of Management, says the prime minister's race does not matter at all. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Like 51 per cent of the respondents, Ms Aneesha Moneesh Khanna, who is studying sociology and economics at the Singapore Institute of Management, says the prime minister's race does not matter at all. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

When newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat attended a youth forum in March, he was asked whether Singaporeans were ready to embrace a prime minister of a minority race.

He said that views across the voting population differ by "age and life experience", although young people today seem "quite comfortable" with having a non-Chinese prime minister.

His perception of young Singaporeans has been backed up by a survey of 19-year-olds carried out by The Straits Times and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).

More than half of respondents - 51 per cent - said the prime minister's race "does not matter at all", while another 21 per cent said it was only "slightly important".

Ms Aneesha Moneesh Khanna, 19, who is taking sociology and economics at the Singapore Institute of Management, echoed the sentiments of many people her age when she said: "Surely it should be the best person for the job. Someone who we are confident will take Singapore through the next phase of growth. Why does it matter whether they are Chinese, Indian or Malay?"

Those polled were also asked if they would prefer a paternalistic or consultative government, and more than 81 per cent said they would prefer the latter.

When asked if there should be alternative voices in Parliament, 77 per cent said yes.

SUSS student Victoria Wong hopes the Government will consult the people more before formulating policies. "People will be much more receptive and accepting of policies if they are consulted and there is concensus-building," she said.

Ms Khanna said she does not expect the Government to consult the people on all policies: "For example, when it comes to economic or financial policies, I expect the Government would know best."

 
 

Participants were also polled on issues such as Section 377A, the law that criminalises gay sex, and whether there was a need for a fake news law.

About half of the respondents said the gay sex law was outdated and the same proportion said gay marriage should be allowed.

Seven in 10 said a new law should be made to control the dissemination of fake news.

SUSS lecturer in social work, Dr Grace Chee, said increased exposure to other perspectives through social media has given rise to a youth population that is more open and accepting of diversity.

"With globalisation, youth are becoming more aware of perspectives that extend beyond Singapore," she said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 12, 2019, with the headline 'More consultative govt, please'. Print Edition | Subscribe