Most Singaporeans neutral or positive about foreigners in the country: Reach poll

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
SINGAPORE - 2020/07/25: People wearing protective masks walk along Orchard Road, a famous shopping district in Singapore.  As of 26 July 2020, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore are at 50,369. (Photo by Maverick Asio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
People walking along Orchard Road in Singapore. (PHOTO: Maverick Asio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The majority of Singaporeans are either neutral or positive about foreigners in Singapore, with only a small proportion having negative sentiments towards the non-citizens, according to a poll done by government feedback agency Reach.

The agency said in a media release on Saturday (10 October) that those who are unemployed are more likely to feel negative towards foreigners; job-related concerns about foreigners are also more pronounced among the unemployed.

The poll was done in two parts. First, a telephone poll was conducted among 2,100 randomly-selected Singapore citizens aged 15 years and above from 11 to 21 August. Following that, an online poll was conducted among 1,050 random Singaporeans aged 15 years and above from 21 to 24 August.


About 49 per cent of the respondents were neutral about foreigners in Singapore. Negative sentiments were low – 14 per cent were either very negative or negative about foreigners in Singapore; positive sentiments were double of that – 35 per cent were either very positive or positive about foreigners in Singapore.

Things that bother Singaporeans about foreigners

All respondents in the poll were asked about the top three things that bothered them most about foreigners.

About a quarter (23 per cent) mentioned job-related concerns, while 16 per cent were concerned about the social habits of foreigners (for example, perceptions of cleanliness, talking loudly).

Singaporeans generally agreed with the importance of remaining open to foreigners. A majority of the respondents (63 per cent) strongly agreed or agreed that it is important that Singapore remains open to foreigners, while 10 per cent strongly disagreed or disagreed with the statement.


A majority of Singaporeans 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.


Anxiety over job security, career opportunities

Reviewing the poll findings, Reach chairman Tan Kiat How – Ministry of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and 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. Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that many Singaporeans understand the need for Singapore to remain open to global talent.”

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