Majority Of CNA Poll Respondents Say Singapore Citizenship Application Should Include English Test
A poll by Channel NewsAsia (CNA) found that 80% of respondents agree an English test should be included in Singapore citizenship applications.
The poll consisted of 500 Singapore-born citizens aged 18 to 69 and was conducted by market research agency MRC following a suggestion in Parliament by Pritam Singh.
The survey garnered plenty of discussions on social media, with many arguing that English tests should be a part of the applications due to Singapore’s multicultural background.
400 out of 500 respondents agree foreigners should take English language test for citizenship application
According to CNA, out of 500 respondents, 400 — or 80% — agreed that foreigners should take an English language test as part of their Singapore citizenship application.
The respondents included:
- 283 Chinese
- 63 Malay
- 39 Indian
- 15 ‘Others’
On the other hand, 100 respondents said no, with the following breakdown:
- 87 Chinese
- 4 Malay
- 7 Indian
- 2 ‘Others’
In addition, 51% of respondents agreed that the ability to communicate in English is among the top three considerations for assessing citizenship applications.
Here’s the full list:
- 51%: Ability to communicate in English
- 51%: Economic contributions to Singapore
- 45%: Family ties to Singapore
- 43%: Professional/Skills qualifications
- 33%: Length of residency
- 30%: Whether they have completed National Service (for male applicants)
- 25%: Ability to communicate in at least one of the other three official languages (Mandarin, Malay, Tamil)
- 22%: Academic qualifications
Netizens react to poll results
Commenting on the results, many netizens appeared in agreement as English has long been a working language here.
Others said effective communication can only happen if both parties speak the same language, in this case, English.
This applies doubly so for frontline service staff as well as construction and manufacturing, they added.
Redditors agreed too, with one r/Singapore user pointing out that English was decided as Singapore’s common language of choice as part of the nation’s efforts to promote racial harmony.
Another remarked that they were “surprised” that having a basic grasp of English isn’t already part of the citizenship application process, especially since many other countries require potential new citizens to learn the language and culture.
However, one netizen thinks alternatives such as a local history test, participation in charities, or volunteering would be more suitable than a “veiled discrimination tool”.
Proposal called ‘unnecessary’ in Parliament
On Monday (27 Feb), Mr Singh raised the possibility of having an English test for citizenship applications.
However, Second Minister for Home Affairs (MHA) Josephine Teo was unconvinced, saying authorities would have considered integration into Singapore already.
She noted that “all tests have pitfalls”.
Other markers of social integration, she said, were family ties to Singaporeans, length of residency, whether the applicant studied in our national schools, or completion of NS.
She continued by saying those unfamiliar with English were likely to be spouses of citizens and other PRs who came from the same countries.
An English test would likely not make such spouses welcome to Singapore, she said.
“Certainly, on the ground, every day, we meet with residents who cannot speak a word of English,” she went on. “And I don’t think anyone has suggested they are any less integrated to Singapore society.”
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