Monday, 24 September 2012

Nine in 10 polled say intolerance is growing

But over 80% say society is harmonious, in survey by govt feedback unit Reach
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 23 Sep 2012

Almost nine in 10 citizens in a recent government poll agreed that there are "some troubling signs" of Singaporeans becoming less tolerant.

Seven in 10 also thought it a concern that Singaporeans have been "expressing nasty views on foreigners". But more than eight in 10 still felt that Singapore society today was harmonious.

These were some of the findings of a telephone poll of 813 citizens - aged 18 to 79 - by government feedback unit Reach on issues raised by the Prime Minister in his National Day Rally speech. The poll was conducted from Aug 29 to Sept 3, a few days after the rally on Aug 26.

Almost all of those polled agreed with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call for Singaporeans to have bigger hearts, as well as the other rally themes of offering hope for the future and making Singapore the "best home".

There was also support for specific policies, both potential and actual. Almost eight in 10 thought singles should be allowed to buy flats directly from the Housing Board, which PM Lee said the Government was looking into.

Currently, singles can buy flats only on the resale market.

Earlier this month, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said that restrictions would apply. But he is still collecting views and will unveil the new policy next year.

The poll also found strong support for government moves to improve pre-school education and boost birth rates.

But opinions were divided over the question of how to fund government spending. Only 55 per cent agreed that social spending "would need to be paid for eventually by increasing taxes".

Reach chairman Amy Khor said the results were "largely encouraging", but "further discussion and thought" were needed in areas such as social spending and relations between citizens and non-citizens.

She urged Singaporeans to take part in the ongoing Singapore Conversation "as such exchanges will allow us to forge a consensus for our collective future".

Some poll respondents will not need urging: 67 per cent said they intended to take part.

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