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Most Singaporeans feel more united than before COVID-19 pandemic; other countries see increased division: Survey

Nearly nine in 10 Singaporeans polled also believe the country has handled the pandemic well.

Most Singaporeans feel more united than before COVID-19 pandemic; other countries see increased division: Survey

People in the central business district in Singapore on Mar 25, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: Three-quarters of Singaporeans in a recent survey said their country was more united than before the COVID-19 pandemic, in contrast to most people in several other countries feeling that their societies are now more divided.

In a study released on Thursday (Aug 11) by American research think-tank Pew, nearly nine out of 10 Singaporean respondents also said their country has dealt with the pandemic well.

Some 75 per cent said Singapore was effectively handling the coronavirus outbreak in ways that show the strengths of the political system.

Among 24,525 people in 19 advanced economies that were polled, Singaporeans also stood out for having more than seven in 10 respondents see vaccination as very important for being a good member of society.

The survey, conducted by Pew from Feb 14 to Jun 3, focused on attitudes toward the pandemic in countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific.

Most people in 13 countries saw their country as more divided than before the pandemic.

The United States had the highest share (81 per cent) of respondents who felt that way, followed by 80 per cent in the Netherlands and 78 per cent in Germany.

On the other hand, 75 per cent of the Singaporeans polled said their country was now more united than before the pandemic.

Singapore, Sweden (60 per cent) and Malaysia (58 per cent) were the only countries with majorities who felt that way.

PANDEMIC HANDLING

The survey also found that 88 per cent of Singaporean respondents felt that the country has done a good job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore "was largely successful at suppressing the spread of the virus prior to the development of effective vaccines", said Pew in its report.

Sweden came closest with 82 per cent of its respondents also rating highly their country's management of the pandemic.

This was in contrast to Japan and South Korea, where 47 per cent and 43 per cent respectively felt that their country had done a bad job.

Still, the majority of people in most places surveyed approved of their country’s coronavirus response.

But in 11 of the 19 advanced economies polled, a majority felt that their country was failing to effectively handle the outbreak in ways that show the weaknesses of the political system. 

These include the US (66 per cent), Japan (57 per cent) and Australia (55 per cent).

In Singapore, however, 74 per cent per cent said the opposite - that their country was effectively handling the outbreak in ways that show the strengths of the political system. 

Pew noted that in almost every country, supporters of the governing political party were much more likely to say their government was handling the outbreak well.

These supporters would also say that their country was handling the pandemic effectively in ways that show the strengths of the political system.

And they would also believe that their country was more united compared with before the pandemic.

VACCINE BEHAVIOUR

The Pew study also found that the perceived importance of the COVID-19 vaccine was heavily partisan in nature.

In every country surveyed, those who support the governing party were much more likely to say it was very important to be vaccinated, said the research centre.

Around two-thirds or more in every country surveyed saw it as somewhat important to get a vaccine to be a good member of society.

Singapore topped the table with 72 per cent of respondents seeing vaccination as very important to be a good member of society, with Sweden (71 per cent) and Spain (70 per cent) following.

Poland had the lowest share of respondents (33 per cent) who felt the same.

Pew further noted a positive relationship between the share of the public who thought it was very important to get a vaccine to be a good member of society, and the actual population that was fully or partially vaccinated at the time it began fieldwork for the survey.

As of Wednesday (Aug 10), 93 per cent of Singapore's eligible population have completed their full vaccination regimen, while 79 per cent of the total population have received their vaccine booster shots. 

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: CNA/fh(jo)

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