In the third of three reports that explore the findings of a Channel NewsAsia-Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) survey on race relations, we examine how most Singaporeans prefer someone of the same race to hold the nation’s highest positions, but how a majority would also accept someone of another race.
SINGAPORE: If given a choice, most Singaporeans prefer someone of the same race as the nation’s Prime Minister or President.
This was one of the findings in a nationwide survey of 2,000 citizens and permanent residents on their views on relations between the country’s four major races. The survey was commissioned by Channel NewsAsia in partnership with the Institute of Policy Studies, and was one of the largest of its kind.
The survey, conducted between June and July this year, was done through a random sampling of dwelling types. Malay and Indian respondents were oversampled to ensure sufficient minority representation. Selected households completed a survey questionnaire then returned it to a surveyor at a stipulated time, to reduce the possibility of interviewer bias.
The results were then statistically weighted to ensure that the final sample resembled the national population in terms of racial composition, dwelling type and gender.
According to the survey, the vast majority of Chinese respondents – 98 per cent – would accept a Singaporean Chinese as Prime Minister, while 96 per cent preferred a Singaporean Chinese as President.
Malay respondents also overwhelmingly wanted a Singaporean Malay to be Prime Minister or President. A total of 93 per cent of Malays surveyed said they preferred a Singaporean Malay to be Prime Minister, while 94 per cent would accept a Malay as President.
Among Indian respondents, 89 per cent would accept a Singaporean Indian as Prime Minister and 92 per cent said the same for the role of the President.
The majority of respondents of all races were agreeable to a Singaporean Chinese in both positions, with more than 80 per cent of Malays, Indians and Others saying they would accept a Singaporean Chinese as Prime Minister and as President.
A majority of respondents, albeit a smaller number, also said they would accept a minority race in the positions – around 60 per cent of Chinese, 75 per cent of Malays and around 68 per cent of Others said yes to a Singaporean Indian Prime Minister or President. When it came to a Singaporean Malay Prime Minister or President, just over half of Chinese, around 70 per cent of Indians and about 80 per cent of Others said yes.
The older a respondent, the less likely he or she would accept someone of a different race to hold the nation’s highest positions, the survey found.
Among Chinese respondents who were below 30 years old, more than 60 per cent would accept a Singaporean Malay as Prime Minister or President, while more than 70 per cent would accept a Singaporean Indian.
Among those over 60 years old, about 40 to 42 per cent would accept a Singaporean Malay, while between 45 and 50 per cent would accept a Singaporean Indian in the two positions.