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Most Singaporeans remain open to foreigners here; only 14% negative towards them: Survey
InternationalOct 11. 2020
By Straits Times
SINGAPORE – More Singaporeans feel positive than negative about the presence of foreigners here while most do not care one way or the other, polling by government feedback unit Reach has found.
A majority also agreed that Singapore should remain open to foreigners.
About half of the more than 2,000 people surveyed said they were neutral about non-citizens in Singapore, while 35 per cent felt positive and just 14 per cent were negative towards them.
Those who were unemployed were more likely to express unhappiness, with 26 per cent saying they felt negative or very negative about foreigners here. Job-related concerns about foreigners were also more pronounced among this group, Reach said in releasing its results on Saturday (Oct 10).
The findings were based on a telephone poll of 2,100 randomly selected Singapore citizens aged 15 and above in August.
The issue of foreign professionals in Singapore’s workforce has been a hot button topic, as rising unemployment and uncertainty amid the recession have fuelled debate about discriminatory hiring practices.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in Parliament last month that 400 firms are on the Fair Consideration Framework watchlist because they may have engaged in such practices.
These companies have an unusually high share of foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) compared with the rest in their industry, she said.
Until they improve, their work-pass applications will be rejected or held back as the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices helps them hire more locals, Mrs Teo said.
Respondents in the Reach survey were also presented with an open-ended question on the top three things that bothered them most about foreigners.
Nearly half did not cite any, while 23 per cent mentioned job-related concerns and 16 per cent said they were bothered by the social habits of foreigners, such as talking loudly and perceptions of their cleanliness.
The majority of those surveyed agreed that it is important for Singapore to remain open to foreigners, with 63 per cent selecting this option. Only 10 per cent disagreed, while 25 per cent were neutral.
Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to be neutral, with 34 per cent choosing this.
A separate online poll of 1,050 Singaporeans found that the majority felt Singapore’s status as a regional hub is beneficial for job creation, though one in five said it would be better for the Republic to do away with this status in order to reduce the number of foreigners, even if it meant fewer job opportunities for Singaporeans. Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to indicate this.
Reach chairman Tan Kiat How said in a statement that Singaporeans are understandably anxious over job security and career opportunities during this difficult period.
The Government is committed to helping Singaporeans keep their jobs or find new ones, said Mr Tan, who is Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and for National Development.
“Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that many Singaporeans understand the need for Singapore to remain open to global talent,” he said of the survey findings.