According to a new survey by REACH – Singapore Government's feedback unit – majority of Singaporeans were either neutral or positive about foreigners (i.e. non-citizens) in the country.
REACH conducted a telephone poll among 2,100 randomly selected Singapore Citizens aged 15 years and above, from August 11 to 21 this year; as well as an online poll among 1,050 randomly selected Singapore Citizens aged 15 years and above, from August 21 to 24 .
The survey found that nearly half (49 per cent) of the respondents were neutral about foreigners in Singapore.
Negative sentiments were low, at only 14 per cent being either very negative or negative about foreigners in Singapore. Meanwhile, positive sentiments were double of that – 35 per cent were either very positive or positive about foreigners in Singapore.
Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to feel negative towards foreigners, with job-related concerns about foreigners being also more pronounced among the unemployed.
In the survey, all respondents were asked about the top three things that bothered them most about foreigners.
Nearly half (47 per cent) of respondents did not mention any concerns about foreigners. 23 per cent mentioned job-related concerns and 16 per cent were concerned about the social habits of foreigners (such as perceptions of cleanliness, talking loudly).
In addition, Singaporeans generally agreed with the importance of remaining open to foreigners. Majority of the respondents (63 per cent) strongly agreed or agreed that it is important that Singapore remains open to foreigners.
25 per cent were neutral on this question, while only 10 per cent strongly disagreed or disagreed with this statement. Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to be neutral on the importance of Singapore remaining open to foreigners.
Majority of Singaporeans also recognised the benefits of Singapore being a regional hub in jobs creation, REACH said. It found that 81 per cent of resondents agreed that it is good that Singapore is a regional hub as it provides good job opportunities for Singaporeans, even if some jobs will go to foreigners.
The remaining 19 per cent felt that it is better for Singapore not to be a regional hub, so as to reduce the number of foreigners, even if it meant fewer job opportunities for Singaporeans. Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to indicate so.
Commenting on the survey findings, REACH Chairman Tan Kiat How, who is Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of National Development said, “During this difficult period, Singaporeans are understandably anxious over job security and career opportunities. The Government remains committed to helping Singaporeans keep their jobs or find new ones."
He added, "Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that many Singaporeans understand the need for Singapore to remain open to global talent.”