The elections are now over and with official results straight out of the oven, the ruling party of Singapore, the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) obtained 61.24% of the overall valid votes on 11 July 2020.
The 2020 general election (GE2020) was held against the backdrop of a global pandemic (COVID-19), and the ruling party sought a strong mandate to bring Singapore out of this crisis. This was indeed an election like no other, as election campaigns were done without the usual physical rallies and were replaced instead, with virtual talk shows, online rallies and promotional videos. During the campaign period, almost all of the candidates were talking about how Singapore can be better in the future. Here at OPPI, we partnered with Stand Up For Our Singapore to seek Singaporeans’ views on how to make our island more vibrant and resilient. We intend to share these results with the relevant authorities so that these voices can play a part in shaping Singapore’s future.
We posed this question to our panellists, “What do you want for Singapore?”. Besides voting, our participants were encouraged to share their opinions based on their experiences. These opinions were collated and thrown back into the voting pool for others to respond to. Participants were also free to share more on how they felt about the questions posed. As of 8 July 2020, our survey consisted of 111 participants and we collected approximately 50 interesting opinions from the survey. Surveys were conducted anonymously over the internet and all surveys were self-administrated.
Who are the participants?
We will never know who they are due to our data security policies. OPPI does ask some demographic-related questions so that we will have an aggregated understanding of our participants’ profiles. According to our results, there was a representation of participants in each age group. 42% of our respondents were within the age group of 35-44. About 56% of the respondents were male and there was a representation in each district of Singapore.
For more details, check out our slides here.
It was clear from the survey that Singaporeans emphasised unity above anything else. We saw the most significant consensus in the following statement: “Singaporeans need to find ways to unite with one another, instead of finding fault lines”. 91.8% of the respondents agreed with it. Also, respondents shared in their follow-up comments that they detest any form of racism or any personal attacks that might potentially divide the country.
Singaporeans were also cognisant about the threats brought forth by COVID-19. While there was chatter on social media on the increasing number of foreigners in Singapore, Singaporeans are also aware that the small city-state should not be isolated on its own. Singaporeans understand the need to maintain a good reputation in the world and understand that Singapore should continue to connect with other countries.
This perception was reflected in two of the common ground statements:
“Singapore needs to maintain a strong reputation and should have a good name among the global community.” [90.9% agreement]
“Singapore will survive on its own without needing to connect and collaborate with other countries.” [88.5% disagreement]
Lastly, Singaporeans hope to see more compassion and empathy in society. Their views also reflect the perception that economic growth should not be the sole focus of the country. This can be seen from the following statements: “GDP should not be the only measure of how well Singapore is doing” and “Society is more important than the economy. The economy serves society, not the other way round,” we saw a high percentage of agreement with these statements and follow-up comments like how the “Government should look at how to take care of the people during this pandemic.” The level of agreement on these statements seems to suggest that the recent roll-out of government budgets and measures did not resonate fully with the people.
Where people were divided on their opinions
Singaporeans were not impressed with the assistance provided by the government before the elections. It is evident that people were divided on the following statements, and there was no clear consensus:
“The assistance provided by the Singapore Government is sufficient.” [Agree: 41.4% / Disagree: 34.2%]
“Singapore has sufficient policies to direct us to full recovery.” [Agree: 41.2% / Disagree: 26.9%]
One of the issues brought up was mental health, and participants were divided on whether Singaporeans as a society were able to accept people with mental health concerns.
“Singaporeans see mental health as normal concerns and will accept others who are struggling with it.” [Agree: 46.2% / Disagree: 35.9%]
The low level of agreement suggests that society is less inclusive and may not be ready to accept people with mental health concerns.
Areas of uncertainty
Again, we can see from the survey that participants were worried about their future in the COVID-19 world. They expressed their concerns and uncertainty on whether they feel that the economy will recover and whether Singapore is heading in the right direction. These statements expressed a high level of uncertainty:
“We have enough jobs to go around in Singapore to support everyone currently.” [Uncertainty: 31.73%]
“I am optimistic that Singapore is heading in the right direction in dealing with the economy.” [Uncertainty: 30.11%]
We were glad that participants also raised LGBTQ issues; however, the level of uncertainty certainly casts doubts on whether Singapore society is actually ready to move forward on these issues. There needs to be more open discussions and conversations on such issues so that we can all build a more inclusive society.
“LGBTQ issues should be considered as well, especially for laws to protect the transgender community.” [Uncertainty: 34.92%]
Finding the groupings
From the responses received by the participants, we found two distinct groups, with one uncertain group in this survey.
It can be seen that 35.6% of the participants were unhappy with the current policies that the government has rolled out over the past months and disagreed with how the government has handled the COVID-19 matter. On the other hand, 48.7% expressed optimism that the government provided enough support and trust that the government will head in the right direction in the COVID-19 world.
15.65% were undecided on the statements and had equal distribution on the level of agreement on the opinions. Alluding this to the trust in government, we can infer from these results that at the time this survey was concluded before the GE2020 polls. About 56.5% of respondents would likely support the government and about 43.43% of the respondents may not. As this was not the purpose of the survey, the results also reflected the electorates’ mood at this juncture and what they were thinking. We hope that we can share these results with the authorities so that they can refine and enhance their policy-making efforts to make Singapore a more inclusive and progressive society.
We acknowledge that all surveys may be subject to multiple sources of error, including but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error. We welcome any and all feedback on further research to be conducted.