A large majority of Singaporeans are aware of the seriousness of race and religious issues, and feel the Government has done enough to manage these divisions.
But fault lines have emerged on class, immigration and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, where more Singaporeans, especially younger ones, want to see greater state intervention and public discourse.
A working paper by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) has found that the majority of Singaporeans are aware of the seriousness of managing societal faultlines, such as issues related to race and religion.
The paper also found that younger respondents were more sensitive to the gravity of racial and religious issues, suggesting that national education efforts on social issues have played a significant role.
A survey of approximately 4,000 respondents was conducted by the IPS last year on race, religious and language issues.
The survey, which concluded in Jan. 2019, was part of a working paper published by the think-tank on Oct. 29, 2019, reviewing community attitudes towards social cohesion and division in Singapore.
Yet only about a quarter tied race and religion to trust in the state and politicians, compared to almost 40 per cent who said trust levels in the Government would likely fall if class and immigration issues are mismanaged.
Just over a fifth of young people aged between 18 and 25 surveyed wanted more state involvement in race issues, compared to one-third of those aged above 65. Similar results were observed for religion.
The study added that education has a significant impact on the desire for public discourse regarding societal faultlines, as it plays a key role in sensitising individuals to the dangers of mismanaging racial and religious issues.
When views on public race and religion discourse were segmented by race, the findings revealed that there was a significantly larger proportion of minorities who desired more public discussion, compared to the Chinese respondents.
The paper added that the trend was consistent with notions of “majoritarian privilege and the lived experiences of minorities”.
Other issues discussed in the paper included local perceptions of immigrants, and socio-economic class frictions.
The survey revealed that almost nine out of 10 Singaporeans felt that they could learn a lot from foreign cultures.
About 30 per cent of Malays and Indians were also more likely to take the allegation seriously by reporting it to the authorities, compared to 13 per cent of Chinese.
Younger Singaporeans would also be more pro-active in tracing the source of such a message, with two-thirds saying they would check with their friend who sent it, compared to only half of respondents aged 65 and above.
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