SINGAPORE: Eight in 10 Singaporeans were satisfied with race and religious relations in 2018, while two in three agreed that there were enough opportunities to interact with people of different backgrounds and beliefs, according to the results of a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).
The topline findings of the annual survey were revealed for the first time by minister Grace Fu on Tuesday (Jan 22) in a wide-ranging interview on her ministry's work last year.
The Social Pulse Survey, which has been carried out annually since 2016, involved 500 face-to-face interviews conducted monthly with residents aged 15 and above from randomly selected households. They were asked for their opinions on matters such as sports, arts, culture and community living, MCCY said.
In elaborating on the ministry's work in building a cohesive society, Ms Fu noted that in 2018, more than 5,700 Singaporeans had been engaged through BRIDGE or Broadening Religious/Racial Interaction through Dialogue and General Education programmes.
The series of BRIDGE initiatives were launched in 2017 by MCCY to foster better understanding and appreciation of the diverse religions and cultures in Singapore.
For example, more than 500 people participated in the Ask Me Anything series in 2018, up from 121 in 2017. Eighty per cent of the attendees were first-time participants, the ministry said.
Ms Fu, who attended a session on Catholicism organised by a non-governmental organisation, said: “It was interesting that it’s able to reach out to people who may not have attended an Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) event but are able to ask questions that they might be interested in, that (are) personal to them in a very safe space.”
NINE IN 10 PROUD TO BE SINGAPOREAN
The survey also found that 90 per cent of those polled in 2018 were proud to be Singaporeans, while 80 per cent agreed that Singapore is a caring and cohesive society.
To illustrate, Ms Fu pointed to the increased level of giving – both in terms of people volunteering their time and resources.
One in three Singaporeans volunteered in 2016, up from one in 10 in 2000, she said. In 2017, the amount of tax-deductible donations increased from S$866 million to S$1.05 billion.
Ms Fu also spoke about how a shared heritage as well as sports and arts programmes have brought Singaporeans from different backgrounds together.
“Our bid to have hawker culture listed in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage is one effort to galvanise Singaporeans to recognise a culture that is so common to our daily lives that we have sometimes taken it for granted. Hawker culture is a daily living experience for many, if not all, Singaporeans. It is actually enjoyed and participated by all races, all backgrounds,” she said.
Almost 220,000 pledges of support for the nomination had been made online between Aug 19 last year and Jan 7 this year, she added.
When asked if the issues raised about how social enterprises manage hawker centres would affect the listing, Ms Fu said that UNESCO is not looking for a perfect presentation of intangible cultural heritage.
“It’s about presenting what that cultural heritage means to us, and if this hawker centre model is what we have today, this is what they will allow us to list, and it allows us the flexibility to evolve over time,” she said.
What UNESCO wants is for that particular heritage to have a resonance with many Singaporeans, and for the culture to be “alive”, she said.
The attendance for performing arts and culture activities, both ticketed and non-ticketed, also went up, Ms Fu noted.
The latest figures from 2017 showed that more than 11 million people attended non-ticketed events, an all-time high, while 1.9 million people attended ticketed events, a 5 per cent increase from the year before.
When asked about what is being done to ensure that ticketed events receive the same support as non-ticketed events, Ms Fu said it is a balancing act.
“I think that when we have artists saying that we should watch out for our involvement in non-ticketed items because it seems to be having an impact on the ticketed performances, it tells me that we are probably getting the balance right.
In wrapping up her comments on MCCY’s work in 2018, she said: “Ultimately, we are in the work of building the social glue that binds all Singaporeans together.”