Singapore residents remain split on trusting people of different religions: Survey

·3-min read

Singapore, Jul 2 (PTI) While there is general support and acceptance for multicultural living in Singapore, its residents remain split when it comes to trusting people of differing religions and nationalities, according to a study released on Friday.

The study by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) think-tank, under the World Values Survey, a global research project monitoring changing public beliefs and their impact over time across 80 societies, focused on the lived experiences of Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) aged 21 and above.

Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 individuals from November 2019 to March last year, according to The Straits Times newspaper.

When asked how frequently they saw racist incidents in their neighbourhoods, 5.7 per cent said either 'very' or 'quite' frequently, 28.7 per cent said 'not' frequently and 65.7 per cent indicated 'not at all' frequently.

The study noted that respondents had reported greater frequencies of racist behaviour compared to the last time the wider survey was held in 2012.

At the time, 79.2 per cent said such incidents do not happen at all frequently.

Head of IPS' social lab Dr Mathew Mathews said that race was less salient as a topic back in 2012, while in recent years people have become more conscious about the fact that racism is present.

The study found that younger and more educated respondents were more likely to recognise and indicate frequent incidents of racism in their neighbourhoods.

It said that this was likely due to greater awareness among those two groups of what constitutes racism, whether through subtle or explicit behaviours.

The researchers also found that Chinese respondents (4.8 per cent) reported the lowest frequency of racism, while Indians (13.8 per cent) reported the highest.

'Given that the Chinese are the majority race, it is likely that they are usually not the targets of such behaviour,' the report cited the study as saying.

Dr Mathews said it was also important to compare Singapore to other multicultural societies.

Of these, only Indonesia had a lower proportion (3.8 per cent) of respondents perceiving racism as occurring frequently. These figures were 28.4 per cent in Malaysia, and 23.5 per cent in the United States, and 17.8 per cent in Australia.

IPS also found that about 2 per cent of Singapore's respondents did not want to live next to people of a different race, language or religion.

'These patterns imply that acceptance of individuals with different practices and cultural heritage are similarly high across different sectors of society,' the study said.

In separate questions related to trust levels, nearly half of the respondents said they trusted people of other religions somewhat but 44.9 said they did not trust them very much.

About 5 per cent said they did not trust them at all, while 2.2 per cent trusted them completely, according to the survey.

The study found that Christians, Muslims and Hindus in Singapore were more likely to be more trusting of other religions; as they were the only groups with over 50 per cent selecting the 'trust somewhat' or 'trust completely' options.

Respondents were just as split when it came to trust of other nationalities.

Nearly half said they did not trust them very much, while 41.4 per cent indicated somewhat, 7.5 per cent not at all, and 1.6 per cent completely.

In contrast, 12.1 per cent of respondents in Britain said they completely trusted people of other religions, while the figure was 11.2 per cent for other nationalities.

In Singapore, trust levels towards people of differing religion and nationality have dipped since the last survey in 2012 - from 58.9 per cent to 50.2 per cent when it came to religion; and from 50.8 per cent to 43 per cent in relation to nationality.

As of June 2020, Singapore had 76.2% Chinese, 15% Malays, 7.4% Indians and the rest were of other origins in a population of 5.7 million. PTI GS PMS PMS PMS

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