Sunday, May 29, 2011

Survey or Surveillance

This is either a freakish coincidence or I am just being paranoid.

After the election day, the lackluster results that was not according to my expectation prompted me to post my take on it... knowing full well that I should not step on spats of hot lavas that may lead to a full volcanic eruption that might incinerate my livelihood.

Threaded carefully with my words because of my limited interest on the subject, thus limited knowledge as I wrote my disappointment and the general helplessness.

Late last week, I received a call from a company that does surveys for corporations. Normally I do not entertain such calls, replying a spontaneous answer of "no, I'm not interested. Thank you" after the first breath of the caller's "Hello. I am from... and we are doing a survey..." bit.

But that night, apart from that sweet sounding young lady's voice introducing herself and the survey, the word "post election" sparked this paranoia ablaze.

So I excepted the request for my time to answer loads of questions pertaining to the recently ended general election and my take on the whole process, as well as my knowledge on local politics.

My acceptance to sit through the twenty minutes of questioning was more of wanting to find out if my posts had any repercussion... an ill effect that was "brewing" as a result. I was giving my paranoia its validation.

I set through the entire session a "professor from NUS" set to study the local take on the election. I could hear lots of voices and questions of the same kind in the background, so I know it was a legitimate survey for that "professor."

The entire survey was quite a fulfilling experience for me since I learned a few things about politics in return and the questions politically inclined people would ask for answers to and are passionate about.

I thought that was that. I dismissed that little unsettling feeling away.

Then yesterday, the door bell rang just after noon. Sonny answered the door. It was a man from the Ministry of Health, who wanted to talk to "your parents" to do a survey. What! Another survey?

Now my paranoia is fuming again and erupting like the volcano I wish to stay far away from and avoid getting burnt! That last man standing at my door yesterday was the last straw. The last third survey that I had encountered.

Third, because, the first survey I had "participate" was inf the form of a letter I received earlier in the week. It was from the Ministry of Manpower stating that this household had been selected to take a "Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, 2011."

A compulsory participation survey, under Section 5 of the Statistics Act (Chapter 317) conducted by the Manpower Research and Statistical Department that had to be taken between 25th and 31st May 2011.

With the given username and password, I took the survey online this morning. It was not as intensive as I had initially thought it would be, given that it was my first time being involved in such surveys.

Why the paranoia?

Well, I figured, after shaking hands with the then Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS Mr. Heng Swee Keat, during his door-to-door rounds during election period, his casual comment on featuring our corridor garden had somewhat been taken seriously by me when his "people" wrote my address down after that. Gulp!

Then, for the life of me, after forty years of living without event the slightest graze with authority, I was suddenly confronted with three government-related surveys within the span of about a week or so. Yikes!

Are these surveys or am I under surveillance? Yes, that is my paranoia questioning me. I watched too much TV and conspiracy theory movies. I am too insignificant to waste good government funding and time to dissect on. Then again... I can any time become the little frog killed at the science lab during a biology class.

Having said all that, I should have taken a photo of Mr Heng, who has been newly appointed as Education Minister, shaking hands with me during his rounds then. He is somewhat a celebrity now who is also the MP for Tampines' GRC.

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