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Opinion researchers meet

/ 05:05 AM November 20, 2021

In any profession, the international conference is the basic way to meet one’s peers, not just at home but in the world as a whole, to learn what world-class professionals do and how they do it, and to show them what one does and how one does it.

Conferences nowadays have adjusted to the pandemic. Out-of-towners use Zoom, instead of flying in. Personal socialization and by-product-tourism have suffered so much as a result. On the other hand, more people can participate, including special guests from distant time zones.

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Last Tuesday/Wednesday, the World Association for Public Opinion Research’s Asia chapter (WAPOR Asia, www.waporasia.org) held its annual conference in Bangkok, with King Prajadhipok’s Institute, CVoter, Social Weather Stations, and other concerned institutions as supporters.

WAPOR Asia’s purpose is to promote in each country the right to conduct and publish scientific research on what the people and its groups think and how this thinking is influenced by various factors. Its activities include informing journalists about the appropriate forms of publishing poll results, and observing the democratic process and the use of polls in elections.

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King Prajadhipok’s Institute (www.kpi.ac.th) is an academic organization under the control of the Thai parliament. It aims to develop democracy in Thailand by training, research, and other activities; it trains parliamentarians, and does surveys with funding from parliament. KPI is SWS’ counterpart for Thailand in Asian Barometer, the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), and other networks.

The KPI surveys are directed by Thawilwadee “Bee” Bureekul. According to its website (poll dates unstated), 86 percent of Thais trust the specialists to lead in solving COVID-19, 65 percent are satisfied with the government’s efforts to deal with COVID-19, and 42 percent can rely on the leader of the country.

CVoter is an international polling agency based in Delhi, India. It has long been headed by Yashwant Deshmukh, the current president of Wapor Asia. I strongly recommend Yashwant’s conference paper, “The confusing world of online polls: why non-probability online research is unscientific.”

CVoter also represents India in ISSP. It hosted the 2019 ISSP meeting in India, set in Jaipur for the sake of the side trip to the Taj Mahal, which was on everyone’s bucket list.

Keeping watch on Hong Kong. The struggle for survey freedom is the subject of three conference presentations: “Polling under the oppressive National Security Law,” by Chung Kim-Wah; “Serving the political agenda: pseudo polls in Hong Kong,” by Wai-kwok Wong; and “Data archiving public opinion polls and histories amidst turmoil,” by Daniel C. Tsang. The authors are all from the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI), which suffered police raids in January and July last year.

HKPORI is headed by the independent-minded professor Robert Chung, who was the first president of WAPOR Asia, before Yashwant. At the conference, he spoke on “Why do we need public opinion research?”

Philippine opinion research. The Zoom mode enabled several SWS people to participate (alphabetical order; titles shortened): Christian Michael Entoma, “Bicycle usage among households during the pandemic”; Hannah Jimala, “Attendance of Filipinos at religious services, 1991-2021”; myself, “Quality of life in the pandemic”; Marco Mercado, “The influence of personal optimism on happiness”; Fernel Paguinto, “Social trust in Asia, using Asian Barometer”; Gerardo A. Sandoval, “Happiness in the Philippines”; Gerardo A. Sandoval, Leo Laroza, and Gianne Sheena S. Sabio, “Crime victimization, public anxiety over crime, and opinion on the anti-drugs campaign”; Malou Tabor and Josefina Mar, “Financial situation of families before and during the COVID-19 crisis”; and Rommel Tabije, “The effects of the pandemic on home and non-home workers in relation to going to work.” SWS deals with many topics.

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WAPOR Asia Lifetime Achievement Award. This year’s awardee is Syed Arabi Idid, professor of communication at International Islamic University Malaysia. My heartiest congratulations to Syed, my old friend since the mid-1970s, when I was a Unicef consultant on social indicators in Malaysia.

The future for Asian pollsters. The next WAPOR Asia conferences will be at Dubai in 2022, and then at Singapore in 2023—hopefully back to face-to-face mode again?

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Contact: [email protected]

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