Survey finds race matters in choice of leaders

Singaporeans celebrating National Day Parade 2016 at National stadium.
Singaporeans celebrating National Day Parade 2016 at National stadium. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Most Singaporeans are willing to accept a president and prime minister of another race, although many have a preference for someone of their own race.

At least 53 per cent of respondents of each race said they find a president or prime minister of another race acceptable.

But the acceptability level was much higher - at least 89 per cent - when it came to someone of the same race.


These are among the results of a Channel NewsAsia-Institute of Policy Studies study on race relations in Singapore, which polled 2,000 citizens and residents.

The survey also showed Singaporeans strongly support meritocracy - race is perceived not to influence one's success.

Nearly all say they respect people of all races and that all races should be treated equally. Many also have positive interactions across ethnic groups.

But almost half of them recognise that racism can be a problem, and are aware that there are a significant number who are at least "mildly racist".

About 70 per cent of respondents found that outright discrimination such as not hiring someone because of the person's race or religion, or insulting others because of race, was never acceptable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Survey finds race matters in choice of leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe