Singaporeans prioritise integrity as the most important attribute of a President

Bhawna SinghPublic Relations Lead, APAC & MENA
August 30, 2023, 3:41 AM GMT+0

Singapore is all set to host its Presidential Election on 1st September. With three candidates competing for the role, how supporters view their choice seems to be reflective of what's important to them.

Results of a new YouGov Survey that asked respondents about the qualities a President should possess show that more than two in five (44%) Singapore residents think ‘integrity’ is the most important attribute to be possessed by a President. In view of the recent scandals that raised concerns among the locals, it is not surprising to see integrity gain relevance as a value that the president should embody.

Following this, more than a third expect the President to have a passion to serve the country (35%), followed by around three in ten who believe good communication skills and honesty (28% each) are vital qualities for the ceremonial head of the state.

Amongst the generations, millennials, and the generations above them have a stronger emphasis on integrity (40% Millennials, 45% GenX, 52% Merdeka compared to Gen Z (29%), while the youngest generation value listening skills (16%) twice more than their older counterparts.

Amongst the three candidates, people in Singapore seem more familiar with Tharman Shanmugaratnam, followed by Tan Kin Lian and Ng Kok Song. Three-quarter of Singaporeans (76%) said they are very or somewhat familiar with Tharman’s campaign message, perhaps because of his prevalent public presence. Familiarity with Kok Song and Kin Lian’s message is slightly lower- at 40% and 47%, respectively.

Given the role and powers of Singapore's Presidency, when asked about the issues a President should speak about, most Singaporeans chose income or wealth inequality as the top issue (55%). With all three candidates having some familiarity and professional experience in economics and finance, it was unsurprising for income or wealth inequality to come up top. Racial harmony (54%) and Singaporean identity (48%), common themes past presidents spoke of, rounded off the top three issues.

When viewed by generations, the data reveals some interesting differences. Racial Harmony has a noticeable age trend, and its priority increases with age – from two in five (41%) Gen Z saying the President should speak about this issue, to almost two-thirds of Merdeka echoing the same sentiment (65%).

Interestingly, Gen Z are more likely than their older counterparts to expect the President to champion the issue of income or wealth inequality (61% GenZ vs 55% Millennials and Gen X and 53% Merdeka). They also tend to value mental health (39%) and gender equality (16%) more highly than others.

The data also reveals some notable variations among the ethnic groups residing in the country. Racial harmony is more important to Indians (71%), Malay (66%) and other ethnic groups (67%) compared to the Chinese population in the country (50%). The issue of Singaporean Identity is also more resonant with Indians (60%) compared to Chinese (48%), Malay (44%) and the others (28%).


YouGov interviewed 1,027 Singaporean citizens aged 21+ between 25th and 28th August 2023. The effective margin of error on this survey is ±3.058%. YouGov conducts its polling using active sampling techniques from our online panel. When using Active Sampling, restrictions are put in place to ensure that only the people contacted are allowed to participate. We target specific demographics to ensure that the final sample is representative of the population by age, gender, ethnicity, and electorate. This approach is used for YouGov polling globally.

*Base for Pioneer generation is small (n<30) so their numerical results may be skewed

Picture credit: Unsplash