Majority of Singaporeans polled agree it is important for Singapore to remain open to foreigners: REACH

Majority of Singaporeans polled agree it is important for Singapore to remain open to foreigners: REACH

Tourists gather in front of the iconic statue of the Merlion in Singapore. (File photo: AFP/ Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans “generally agreed” with the importance of the country remaining open to foreigners, REACH said in a media release on Saturday (Oct 10).

A total of 2,100 “randomly selected” Singaporeans aged 15 and above took part in a telephone poll from Aug 11 to Aug 21, and an online poll was conducted among 1,050 “randomly selected” citizens, also aged 15 and above, from Aug 21 to Aug 24.

“The sample was weighted to be demographically representative of the national population in terms of gender, age, and race,” said REACH, the Singapore Government's feedback and engagement unit.

The majority of the respondents (63 per cent) “strongly agreed or agreed” that it is important that Singapore remains open to foreigners.

Twenty-five per cent were neutral on this question, while “only 10 per cent strongly disagreed or disagreed” with this statement, said REACH.

“Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to be neutral on the importance of Singapore remaining open to foreigners,” the media release added.

graph 2
(Chart: REACH)

The majority of Singaporeans polled also recognised the benefits of Singapore being a regional hub in jobs creation.

About 81 per cent 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,” said REACH.

graph 3
(Chart: REACH)

Thirty-five per cent of respondents were “either very positive or positive” about foreigners in Singapore, with about 14 per cent “either very negative or negative” about foreigners in Singapore.

Nearly half (49 per cent) were neutral about foreigners in Singapore.

"Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to feel negative towards foreigners; job-related concerns about foreigners were also more pronounced among the unemployed," said REACH.

graph 1
*Persons outside the labour force include retirees, housewives, students and those who were not working nor looking for work. (Chart: REACH)

All respondents were asked about the top three things that “bothered them most” about foreigners. It was an open-ended question where up to three responses were allowed, said REACH.

Twenty-three per cent mentioned job-related concerns and 16 per cent were concerned about the “social habits of foreigners”, for example “perceptions of cleanliness or talking loudly”, said REACH.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of those surveyed did not mention any concerns about foreigners.

“During this difficult period, Singaporeans are understandably anxious over job security and career opportunities," said REACH chairman Tan Kiat How, who is also Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and in the Ministry of National Development.

"The Government remains committed to helping Singaporeans keep their jobs or find new ones. Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that many Singaporeans understand the need for Singapore to remain open to global talent."

Source: CNA/ic