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Society, Blackbox Briefings

Perception Survey: Insights from the Singapore Malay/Muslim Community

AMP Convention CoverOn 30 June 2012, the Association of Muslim Professionals held its 3rd National Convention of Singapore Muslim Professionals.

Attended by PM Lee Hsien Loong, the convention prominently featured Blackbox’s commissioned public perception study of Malay-Muslims in Singapore. Blackbox’s findings were also included in the convention publication.

Study Background

The Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) commissioned a perception study in 2011 to better understand the aspirations and expectations of the Malay-Muslim community (MMC) today in terms of its progress and position in Singapore’s development and its contribution to nation building.

Approximately 350 members of the Malay-Muslim community were interviewed over a period of two months. The sample was representative across age, gender and socio-economic status in line with the most recent Department of Statistics Census data.

Additionally, 59 key influencers identified by AMP as prominent figures in the Malay-Muslim community completed online interviews. This segment comprised of leading individuals in various sectors including media, civil service, social and business sectors as well as entrepreneurs who have considerable influence on the community.

In-depth interviews were also conducted with a handful of opinion leaders in the community including policymakers and leaders of prominent ethnic-based community organizations.

Executive Summary

In the last five years, do you think things have generally gotten better, gotten worse or stayed the same?

A Generally Content Community
The survey of the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore (along with other key Malay-Muslim stakeholders) reveals both satisfaction with the country’s direction and a strong sense that local Malay-Muslims have made good progress over the last five years.

Nearly two in three (63%) Malay/Muslim respondents believe that Singapore is currently on the right track, largely attributable to the country’s economic stability and growing prosperity. Those who felt Singapore is on the wrong track (17%) cited the high cost of living today is cited as the main factor for thinking so.

56% of Malay/Muslims believed that Singapore has made progress in the last five years. In comparison, only about a third (31%) believed the Malay/Muslim community has made progress in the last five years. Less than one in ten (9%) believed the situation has gotten worse for Malay/Muslims, while 59% think that things have remained stable.

According to more than half of those who indicated things have gotten better in the last five years, the main improvement identified was education.

Cost of Living is Main Issue
More than three in five Malay-Muslims (62%) highlight the general cost of living as an important issue for the community, ahead of the next two issues – employment (35%) and housing affordability (31%).

From the demographic analysis, cost of living is a far bigger issue amongst those with lower education (secondary and below).
Most Malay-Muslims (65%) believe their community enjoys the same opportunities as other Singaporeans. In contrast, nearly half (48%) of the key influencers that were surveyed thought otherwise.

Likewise, cost of living is cited as an area where Malay/Muslims felt that they are worse off compared to other Singaporeans. Amongst the key influencers, the community is seen as being greatly disadvantaged when it comes to competing against foreigners for employment, as compared to other Singaporeans.

Optimistic About the Future
Over three in four (76%) Malay-Muslims indicated their confidence in the prospects for the community over the next decade. Key influencers were, however, more polarised in their opinions with many expressing skepticism about the community’s prospects.