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Singaporeans 'generally agreed' with foreigners' importance in country

Singaporeans generally agreed with the importance of the country, dubbed as Asia's financial hub, remaining open to foreigners competing for jobs, according to a latest survey.

Singapore

Singaporeans generally agreed with the importance of the country, dubbed as Asia's financial hub, remaining open to foreigners competing for jobs, according to a latest survey.

About 81 per cent of the people agreed that it is good that Singapore is a hub as it provides good job opportunities for Singaporeans, even if some jobs will go to foreigners, Channel News Asia reported, citing the survey of the government's feedback and engagement unit REACH.

Majority of the respondents (63 per cent) strongly agreed or agreed that it is important that Singapore remains open to foreigners while 25 per cent were neutral, and only 10 per cent strongly disagreed or disagreed, said REACH which conducted the survey between August 11-21.

The sample was weighted to be demographically representative of the national population in terms of gender, age and race. Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to be neutral on the importance of Singapore remaining open to foreigners, it said.

The remaining 19 per cent felt that it is better for Singapore not to be a regional hub, so as to reduce the number of foreigners, even if it meant fewer job opportunities for Singaporeans respondents who were unemployed were more likely to indicate so, it said.

Thirty-five per cent of the respondents were either very positive or positive about foreigners in Singapore, with about 14 per cent either very negative or negative.

Nearly half (49 per cent) were neutral about foreigners in the country.

"Respondents who were unemployed were more likely to feel negative towards foreigners; job-related concerns about foreigners were also more pronounced among the unemployed," said REACH which represents different segments of Singapore with panel of parliamentarians and public leaders.

All the respondents were asked about the top three things that bothered them most about the foreigners. It was an open-ended question where up to three responses were allowed, it said.

Twenty-three per cent mentioned job-related concerns and 16 per cent were concerned about the social habits of foreigners, for example perceptions of cleanliness or talking loudly, it said, after polling people on three things that bothered them most about foreigners.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of those surveyed did not mention any concerns about foreigners.

During this difficult period, Singaporeans are understandably anxious over job security and career opportunities," said REACH chairman Tan Kiat How, who is also the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and in the Ministry of National Development.

"The government remains committed to helping Singaporeans keep their jobs or find new ones. Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that many Singaporeans understand the need for Singapore to remain open to global talent," he said.

A total of 2,100 randomly selected Singaporeans aged 15 and above took part in a telephone poll from August 11 to August 21, and an online poll was conducted among 1,050 randomly selected citizens, also aged 15 and above.