SINGAPORE — More than three-quarters of Singaporean respondents in a June survey said they supported the ongoing protests in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the survey conducted by independent market research consultancy Blackbox Research found that 767 out of 1,000 Singaporeans polled said that they supported the concerns raised by Hong Kong residents about the proposed extradition bill which led to the recent protests.
SCMP reported that, of these supporters, 247 said they “strongly support” the concerns, while 520 said they “somewhat support” the Hong Kong residents. There were 195 respondents who said they “somewhat oppose” the concerns, and 38 who “strongly oppose” them.
Since early June, Hong Kong has been mired in a political crisis due to the extradition bill, which would have allowed suspects in the territory to be sent to jurisdictions with which it lacks extradition agreements, including the Chinese mainland, to face trial.
After a series of massive protests, the government of Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the bill and apologised for the controversy.
However, the protest movement has shown no signs of abating, as several of its demands – including the full withdrawal of the law and Lam’s resignation – have yet to be fulfilled.
SCMP reported that, in the same survey, Singaporeans were asked if they had been paying attention to the protests in Hong Kong. Of the 1,000 polled, 322 said they have been following “very closely”. 424 said that while they have been paying attention to the protests, they “did not closely” follow the situation.
Another 198 said they heard about the protests but did not follow the news, while 56 said they have not heard about the protests, according to SCMP.
Singapore media have been covering the protests extensively, with several commentators offering varying viewpoints on the situation.
Strong fraternal feelings
Of the strong support showed by the Singapore respondents on the Hong Kong residents’ concerns over the extradition bill, SCMP quoted political observer and Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan as saying that a likely reason is the strong fraternal feelings between Hong Kong and Singapore.
He told SCMP, “The empathy that Singaporeans have for Hong Kong protesters stems primarily from the conviction, passion, and sense of purpose that Hong Kongers have shown, especially the younger generation.
“The Hong Kong protests, before the violent storming of the Legislative Council building, will certainly be a reference point for Singaporeans if they are in a similar situation. It is about fighting on bravely even in the face of futility.
“The sense that young Hong Kongers have nothing to lose or gain evokes among young Singaporeans a sense of profound identification with their Hong Kong contemporaries’ cause and conviction.”
Another commentator, retired Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan, told SCMP that the Blackbox poll results put on display “natural human feelings” of sympathy that Singaporeans had for Hong Kong.
However, he dismissed the notion that such street politics would have a spillover effect in Singapore, which is set for a general election within the next 1.5 years.
He told SCMP, “Attention and sympathy…does not mean that we want to emulate what is happening in Hong Kong or that we necessarily think that the rather inchoate goals of the demonstrators are realistic or achievable.”
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