90% accept workmates of another race but...

SINGAPORE - More than 90 per cent of Singaporeans are comfortable with those of other races and religions in relationships in the public sphere, a survey on social harmony has found.

Respondents were asked separately about their level of comfort with a colleague, boss, employee and next-door- neighbour, if that person was of a different racial or religious group.

But the picture was different when it came to relationships with new citizens.

The proportions of the 4,000 respondents who indicated comfort with, say, a new citizen from China or India who was a colleague or next-door-neighbour were lesser. These ranged from 74 per cent to 87.6 per cent.

Respondents were also asked for their level of comfort with those of different racial and religious groups in the private sphere - as a spouse, brother or sister-in-law, and a close friend.

The proportions who said they were comfortable in these relationships were lower than the figures for those in the public sphere - though the majority still expressed comfort.

For instance, 61 per cent of non-Chinese said they were comfortable with a Chinese spouse and 35 per cent of non-Malays said they were comfortable with a Malay spouse.

These details were released during a forum on racial and religious harmony on Wednesday at The Grassroots Club, and come after initial findings from the survey by the Institute of Policy Studies and racial harmony advocacy group OnePeople.sg were announced in July.

The survey had sought to create 10 indicators to gauge the state of racial and religious relations in Singapore.

These included measures of inter-racial and religious trust, and minority discrimination in the work place.

The sample of 3,182 households interviewed were representative of national demographics, with an additional booster sample of 489 Indians and 492 Malays used to ensure cross-ethnic comparisons were reasonable.