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Public Opinion: What do Singaporeans want to talk about?

Some topics are considered ‘impolite’ to discuss publicly in Singapore, but the last General Elections saw Singaporeans bringing some of these topics to the forefront of discussions. Young Singaporeans were also more vocal than usual, forgoing their much-decried “political apathy” and contributing to important national debates. From work-life balance policies to home ownership schemes, many first-time voters expressed their expectations for a rapidly changing society. So which topics are Singaporeans now keen to discuss publicly? 

Our data shows that two key topics that Singaporeans feel should be discussed are the easing of restrictions related to HDB ownership and those related to CPF usage (both at 73%). These are followed by Ministers’ remuneration and work-life balance policies (both at 70%). Conversely, Singaporeans are less ready to have conversations around the lifting of the chewing-gum ban (48%), the abolishment of corporal/capital punishments (43%), and the reviewing of laws on recreational drug use (38%). 

Regarding young Singaporeans (Gen Zers), we find the same list of topics – but with three major differences. First, Gen Zers put CPF restrictions at the top of their discussion list (71%) and HDB restrictions towards the bottom (69%). Second, instead of work-life balance policies, Gen Zers seem to want to discuss the extent to which Singapore could be led by a non-Chinese Prime Minister (70%). Third, in terms of topics that they are less ready to discuss more openly, Gen Zers put adopting a multi-party electoral system at the top (52%). 

Overall, these findings suggest that bread-and-butter issues (wages, savings, employment conditions, home ownership) are important areas of public discussion, while others are very much encroached as less comfortable topics that are unlikely to be discussed – or changed – in the near future (most notably the abolishment of corporal/capital punishments and the reviewing of laws on recreational drug use).