To UMNO Leadership–Don’t Use Singapore Malays for your Politics

December 8, 2016

To UMNO Leadership–Don’t Use Singapore Malays for your Politics

by Mohsin Abdullah (received via email)

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The first ever Singapore’s Malay Brigadier General, Ishak Ismail, who is also the Commander of Sixth Army Division(left in the picture)

In wanting to garner support of the Malays and thus to cling on to power, UMNO has this habit, albeit bad, of using (or should it be misusing) the Malays of Singapore. We all know that, right? But I’ll say it again here all the same.

The party tends to portray Singapore Malays as being “discriminated”, “ill treated” and “marginalized” by the Chinese-dominated PAP government in Singapore.

Having done that, UMNO will say (or rather warn) the Malays in this country that they will suffer the same fate if UMNO loses political power in Malaysia.

In short, they’ll say, “Support UMNO or you Malays will suffer like your saudara di Singapura.” The latest UMNO leader to use this overused tactic is Puad Zarkashi, a member of the party’s supreme council.

Puad was obviously riled up when Tun Mahathir Mohamad who helmed UMNO for more than 20 years had praised DAP for upholding the Federal Constitution, the constitutional monarchy, special position of the Malays, national language, and Islam as the religion of the Federation.

And Mahathir lauded DAP for being a Malaysian party.These remarks were made when Mahathir attended for the first time ever the DAP national convention held recently.

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Singapore’s Speaker of Parliament

In admitting his previous wrong impression of DAP, Mahathir said although the party had often been painted by its enemies as a Chinese party, the DAP anthem and the speeches at the convention by secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and acting chairman Tan Kok Wai were in Bahasa Malaysia.

Puad retorted by saying that using the Malay language for party anthem and speeches “does not ensure DAP will protect the Malays”.


According to him, DAP “is just following the strategy of Singapore’s PAP”, going on to say that “Singapore’s national anthem is in Malay but what happened to the Malays because of the policy (similar to DAP’s Malaysian Malaysia ) practiced by Singapore?”

He did not elaborate but in all probability he was talking about the Malays in Singapore being treated “unfairly” by the Chinese PAP.

So, are Singapore Malays marginalized by the PAP?

I can’t say for sure. But there are grouses. For instance, I’ve read of Singapore Malays wanting full equality in national service and all sectors of the armed forces, suggesting some sort of “mistrust” for the community from the authorities.

Caption: The inaugural recipients of the MERCU-SMU Excellence Scholarship are (L-R) Nur Amalina Binte Saparin, Muhammad Hafiz Bin Kasman, and Khairul Ashraf Bin Khairul Anwar.]

I’ve read also of their call for full employment opportunities for all Malay women, including the tudung-clad ones, demanding for “equal treatment, equal opportunities”.

Anyway, not too long ago, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in Parliament that the next presidential election of Singapore due next year is reserved for candidates from the Malay race.

Meaning only Malay candidates will contest. An all-Malay contest. But, they must first be qualified, of course. This means Singapore will have a Malay as President again after more than 46 years since Yusof Ishak, the first president of an independent Singapore.

“Reserved” election is meant to ensure minority presidents or rather Singaporeans from minority communities are elected from time to time.

Hence next year the presidency of one of the world’s richest countries will be served on a silver platter to the Malay community. A gift. But, this is how the Malays in Singapore reacted to the gift. Majority of them anyway.

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A Malay Rebel

Retired Straits Times journalist Ismail Kassim had this to say among other things, via his Facebook posting: “Thank you PM for your unsolicited gift but we don’t want and don’t need it. Do you realize that your gift will only reinforce the negative images of us and undermine our past progress?”

To Ismail, “the day a Malay assumes the Elected President through a reserved race will be a day of shame for us and for all the people. It will be a step backward for multiracialism, meritocracy and democracy”.

A piece written by one Nizam Idris for the Straits Times also caught my attention. Nizam I later learned is an economist and market strategy head of an international bank in Singapore. He also viewed the reserved election as a “big step backward for the Malay community”.

Said Nizam he was brought up in an era where “we Malays were told we had to fend for ourselves in schools and in our careers as Singaporeans of other races did.”

After initial trepidation, due in part to seeing how Malays in other countries in the region depended on race-based policies to help them advance, Malay Singaporeans grew out of their historical reliance on such crutches. And that has over time become a source of pride and motivation for the community.

Nizam is proud to say the Singapore Malay community has made significant progress and proved “we could stand on our own feet”.

That, said Nizam, was thanks in no small part to the brave decision by “our earlier leaders to take away our proverbial crutches and make us compete on a level playing field”.

And like everything else, said Nizam, healthy competition drives the community to a higher level. He nevertheless admitted that not many Malays would reject a gift like the chance to have a member of the community as president.

“That’s human nature,” he said, ” but what would be even more satisfying is a hard fought campaign leading to the election of a Malay president who deserves the position based on the famously Singaporean values of grit and merit “

In a nutshell, for Nizam and most Singapore Malays, they want to earn things — be it the presidency or anything else — based on merit and ability. No short cut, no easy way out, no tongkat.

Tabik Melayu Singapura!



10 thoughts on “To UMNO Leadership–Don’t Use Singapore Malays for your Politics

  1. Telling UMNO not to exploit anything for their political gain is like asking fish to swim out of water.

    Fact of the matter is UMNO knows the Malays can be moved by emotional rhetorics that do not make any sense. Truth is the Malays have been conditioned to want some part of it, that weakens them, so that UMNO can remain in power. UMMO need easy rhetorics and easy politics to survive, because they mess up too often.

    The problem is now Hadi’s PAS is also badly afflicted with the same disease.

    I will keep saying it, the answer must lie in making case of the failure of political Islam, not UMNO’s failure because a big part of the heartland are not able to give up too many or too much of the crutch. Those who argue against not attacking Hadi’s PAS too much is wrong. They buy into the idea the dysfunctionality of Malays are too difficult and have to be given very wide berth essentially avoiding the problem. Its just lazy thinking. Saying political Islam fail is not saying Islam fail, it just requires a different inspirational direction. It requires a lot and like it or not, that is the job and profession of real politicians.

  2. The “Ahok” syndrome in Indonesian politics must tell us something.

    There the ethnic Chinese are truly “integrated” They have Indon names, speak Indon like any true blue Indon Javanese, Sumatran, etc, something which some of our UMNO politicians said the Malaysian Buddhist, Taoist, Christian ethnic Chinese / Hindu Indians / Sikh Punjabis (and the “Others” perhaps?), should aspire to before they could be considered “Malaysian”

    Why?….. because Malaysia is a “Malay-Muslim” country, and so…..

    If so, then would UMNO agree that the Singaporean Malays adopt Chinese names, speak only Mandarin since Singapore, according to them, is a “Chinese” country, ruled by a “Chinese” PAP government?

    The fact that at least a couple of Singaporean Malays feel shame that “special treatment” by way of a “presidential gift” is accorded to the community should be held up by Malaysian Malays, particularly UMNO Malays, as a symbol of pride and joy because this is something truly, truly worthy of RESPECT, something which the UMNO Malays could never bother to earn, so far, but simply demanded because it is so so much easier, like being awarded a government contract and then sells it to the highest bidder and off to buy a charcoal black Toyota Alphard all within 24 hours.

  3. In Bolehland, Singporean Nizam would be considered by Umno as “betraying the malay race”! No wonder, the melayu here are still on crutches, 46 years after the Never Ending Policy.

  4. With all the political powers in the hand of Malays (read UMNOputras) and dishing out of freebies, subsidies, discounts, scholarships and education perks, cash handouts and what not to the Malays in Peninsula Malaya, it is the reading of many observes that an average Malay in Singapore is much better of than the average Malay in the Peninsula – that is in terms of self-reliance, resilience, education and skills acquisition. If it is money bags, there are loads and loads of them in Peninsula whereas even if there are any in Singapore, one can count them with fingers.

    In an open election, without the backing of political parties, chambers of commerce, clan associations, trade unions and such like outfits, there is little chance of a minority candidate winning any election including that for Presidency. The fact that the next presidency election is reserved for Malay candidates is a reflection of this hard truth.

  5. Unless I’m mistaken, Singapore Malays get generous financial help if they
    manage to get into Singapore’s public universities.

    Singapore Malays can speak good English.
    And they can hold their heads high as Singaporeans when they travel overseas.

  6. Some financial help is given to those who need them and this is given not exclusively to the Malays but to all others as well.

    Malays speaking in English among themselves is very common. What more, even grand parents speak to their grand children in English. They pick the language from kids and then command them in the same language as well!

  7. I salute Nizam for his stance and determination. This is something alien to the dedak-eating Umnoputras over here. The proverbial crutches are not the requirement of hard-working Melayus. Far from it. The crutches are being demanded by those in the ruling class who feel Malay rights are their rights.

  8. Quote:- “Singapore Malays can speak good English”

    The more important point is that they are just as proficient in Malay, their mother tongue which is compulsory in all public schools.

    Therefore the fear, held or propagated by UMNO, that Malaysian Malays will lose their Malayness vide a lost or dilution of the Malay language when English is nationally promoted, is unfounded.

  9. I do not know too many Singapore Malays nor do I know much about the Malays in Singapore. Since my retirement I opened a small coffee and pastries shop just to past time. There are three Singapore Malay engineers working in the Silicon Valley coming to my shop two or three times per week, apparently liking the coffee and the green onion buns I make.

    We chatted, they respectfully calling me pakcik. They must have been educated in the United States for some time, for I hardly detect any Singlish in them. They said they are happy with life in Singapore. The only complaint they have is that the Singaporean government should open up more to recruit Singaporean Malays into the arm forces, especially the Air Force and the Navy. Other than that, they are very happy to be Singaporean. In fact, they told me they despised the Malays in Malaysia, calling them the parasites of the society, taunting they cannot walk without the tongkat.

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