Race is not a key factor in choosing PM for Singaporeans: survey

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Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, center, is seated with members of his new Cabinet in a photo taken on Sept. 28, 2015. AP file photo

The race of Singapore’s next Prime Minister is not an important issue for Singaporeans, according to a survey conducted by market research consultancy Blackbox.

Of the 897 Singaporeans who took part in the survey, commissioned earlier this month by Yahoo Singapore, 73 per cent of them disagreed that the race of a PM is an important criterion.

The respondents were asked to reply to the following statement: if they were choosing the next PM, the race of the candidate would be an important criterion for them.

Among the Chinese and Indian respondents, 75 per cent from each group disagreed with the statement while among the Malay respondents, 58 per cent of them disagreed.

The overwhelming majority of the respondents from all the four age groups – 15-24 years, 25-34 years, 35-49 years, 50 years and above – also disagreed with the statement.

In response to the finding, Blackbox said, “The poll results confirm data from other Blackbox surveys that race is not the primary criterion as a basis for choosing a preferred candidate among the Singapore public.”

Blackbox also asked the respondents about the age and charisma factors when choosing the next PM.

When it comes to age, 50 per cent of them agreed with the statement that the age of a candidate would be an important criterion for them.

Among the Chinese, Malay and Indian respondents, 52 per cent, 49 per cent, and 46 per cent of them, respectively, agreed.

On charisma, an overwhelming 83 per cent of the respondents agreed that the charisma of the next PM is an important factor.

This was also reflected in the responses of the Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans surveyed, with 83 per cent, 84 per cent, and 74 per cent of them, respectively, agreeing that they favour a charismatic PM.

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Blackbox’s breakdown of its survey results on the factors of race, age and charisma in the prime minister succession (Photo: Blackbox)

DPM Tharman is top PM choice for Singaporeans

In an earlier story published by Yahoo Singapore, 55 per cent of the respondents in the survey said Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam, 59, was their top choice to succeed Lee Hsien Loong as Prime Minister.

Tharman was far ahead of the other contenders - DPM Teo Chee Hean (17 per cent); Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing (9 per cent each); Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin (6 per cent); National Development Minister Lawrence Wong and Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung (2 per cent each); and Acting Education Minister Ng Chee Meng (1 per cent).

Lee has highlighted several times that the search for his successor is ongoing.

In an interview with Beijing-based magazine Caijing, published on 7 September, Lee said, “It takes time, but I have a promising team of younger Ministers and I am quite sure from amongst them, one leader will emerge.”

Lee also spoke about the importance of leadership succession during this year’s National Day Rally, where he said that his successor must be ready to take over from him soon after the next general election.

The Blackbox survey also revealed that the topic of leadership succession is closely followed by Singaporeans, with seven in 10 respondents having recently heard or read news about the topic.

Watch out on Thursday (29 September) for Part Three of the results of the Blackbox survey on the prime minister succession on Yahoo Singapore.

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