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Singapore Constitution : Malays given a "special position" -
tangawizi
post Aug 31 2009, 01:09 PM
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QUOTE
Aug 20, 2009

MM rebuts NMP's notion of race equality

Constitution requires Government to give Malays special position, he says in House debate

By Clarissa Oon

IN A rare intervention in Parliament, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew rose yesterday to 'bring the House back to earth' on the issue of racial equality in Singapore.

Spelling out the Government's approach to the treatment of different races, he pointed out that the Constitution of Singapore itself enjoins the Government to give Malays a 'special position', rather than to 'treat everybody as equal'.

He rebutted as 'false and flawed' the arguments by Nominated Member of Parliament Viswa Sadasivan calling for equal treatment for all races.

On Tuesday, Mr Viswa had tabled a motion for the House to reaffirm its commitment to principles in the National Pledge when debating national policies.

A total of 14 MPs spoke on the motion over the past two days. The wide-ranging and vigorous debate ended with Parliament accepting an amended version of Mr Viswa's motion proposed by People's Action Party MP Zainudin Nordin, and modified slightly by MM Lee.

Mr Zainudin's amendment was to acknowledge the progress Singapore has made in nation building, while Mr Lee's was to highlight the principles in the Pledge as aspirations.

While present at almost every Parliament sitting, the last time Mr Lee rose to speak was in April 2007 during a furore over ministerial pay increases.

He told the House yesterday that he had not planned to weigh in on the debate over the Pledge, but was moved to do so by Mr Viswa's remarks on the hot-button issue of race.

In a lengthy speech on Tuesday, the NMP had expressed pride in Singapore's inter-racial harmony and principle of equal opportunity for all races.

However, he questioned if the Government was sending out mixed signals by emphasising racial categories, for example, through ethnic self-help groups.

MM Lee declared that the assumption of equal treatment for all races is 'false and flawed', and 'completely untrue'.

To 'remind everybody what our starting point is', he pointed to the racially tense period of the 1960s, the circumstances in which the Pledge had been written.

Singapore had just been thrown out of Malaysia. The Malays in Singapore were feeling particularly vulnerable, unsure if the Chinese majority here would treat them the way the Malay majority in Malaysia had treated the Chinese minority there.

Because of such a backdrop, the Pledge crafted by then Culture Minister S. Rajaratnam took pains to emphasise principles that would be 'regardless of race, language and religion'.

Mr Lee also drew the House's attention to Article 152 of the Constitution, which makes it the Government's responsibility to 'constantly care for the interests of the racial and religious minorities in Singapore'.

In particular, it states that the Government must recognise the special position of the Malays, 'the indigenous people of Singapore', and safeguard their political, economic and educational interests.

Mr Lee contrasted Singapore's approach with that of the United States, where despite a 1776 declaration that 'all men are created equal', blacks did not get the right to vote until a century later, and racial segregation continued well into the 20th century.

For Singapore to reach a point where all races could be treated equally 'is going to take decades, if not centuries', he said bluntly.

For this reason, he sees the Pledge not as an 'ideology', as Mr Viswa put it, but as an 'aspiration'.

Mr Viswa had also wondered if Singapore had got the balance right between prosperity and the happiness of its citizens, and if it had done enough to strengthen its democratic fundamentals.

Education Minister Ng Eng Hen, who spoke after MM Lee, provided a detailed response, spelling out how the Government's record over the past 50 years had been entirely in the spirit of the Pledge.

'Far from compromising these ideals in the pursuit of economic gro-wth, we have been defenders of these ideals in building a nation,' he said.

Policies are debated openly in Parliament, and the Government is accountable to the people at every election, he said.

He noted that Mr Viswa's model of a multi-party democracy, more opinionated media and politically active universities was drawn from other democratic models in the West.

In Asia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand have elements of these models too.

But he questioned if those places had done better than Singapore, and said it was not self-evident that their models would work here.

More important than high-flown rhetoric in pledges and anthems was the reality on the ground, in the lives that citizens led, he maintained.

He agreed with the NMP that Singapore must move with the times.

However, Dr Ng said: 'We must not do so unthinkingly, but consider carefully each step forward, carving our own path towards a better society and a more vigorous economy.'

clare@sph.com.sg

Copyright © 2007 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement & Condition of AccessAug 20, 2009

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ricochet
post Sep 3 2009, 11:50 AM
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discount in housing and education

racial equality will never happens because there is awareness but no culture integration ... many dont even know the festivals of each culture

perhaps the growing up years there is special position but the working world is "cruel"
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tangawizi
post Sep 5 2009, 02:34 AM
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u mean malays get discount in housing and education? that's fair right? but should be on means-testing rather than race-based... some of my malays mates are rich ya know?
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tangawizi
post Sep 6 2009, 11:47 AM
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QUOTE
Khairulanwar Zaini

The Malay community has found its new defender – Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Usually the community’s harshest critic, Lee invoked a Constitutional clause long regarded as dormant: Section 152, a Malaysian heritage that calls upon the government to ‘exercise its functions in such manner as to recognise the special position of the Malays, who are the indigenous people of Singapore, and accordingly it shall be the responsibility of the Government to protect, safeguard, support, foster and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social and cultural interests and the Malay language’.

Malay Singaporeans must be left bemused by this. The government has long hectored them not to expect any special privileges or affirmative action, for Singapore operates upon the sacrosanct principles of meritocracy and racial equality. However, on Wednesday, Lee declared that ‘it is a duty of the Government not to treat everybody as equal’.

Lee’s speech was in response to Nominated Member of Parliament Viswa Sadasivan’s call for racial equality. Viswa had, in the previous sitting, alluded to instances of racial inequality, particularly the ‘issue of Malay-Muslims in the SAF, SAP schools and cultural elitism’, among others.

Lee affirmed that racial inequality not only exists, but is also mandated by the Constitution. In a rich display of parliamentary irony, he said that the Government has a ‘duty to treat Malays and other minorities with extra care’. Apparently, ‘extra care’ to minorities means marginalizing the Malays in the military and emphasizing the preeminence of Chinese culture.

The Guardian of Minority Interests

The Malaccan sultanate, during its zenith, counted among its ranks pahlawans – Malay warriors who would embody the spirit of Malay nationalism and uphold Malay interests.

Lee may seem like a modern Malay pahlawan in invoking Section 152 and Malay privileges, but in truth he was hiding behind shadows. Section 152 is hardly a convincing shield, since the clause has been diluted in substance over the years.

Arguably, the only substantive and tangible ‘privilege’ that emanates from Section 152 is the Mendaki Tertiary Tuition Fee Subsidy. This financial scheme has however ceased to be an outright privilege, but has been subjected to means-testing instead.

The means-testing was introduced by Lee, who had ‘asked Mendaki to ask (the Malays) to agree not to have their special rights of free education at university, but to take the fees they were entitled to and use the money to help more disadvantaged Malays.’

This ‘redistribution of resources amongst the poor’, to borrow a phrase from Michael Barr in his book Constructing Singapore, hardly goes with the spirit of Section 152.

The Spirit of 152 vs Reality

However, it is true that the government espouses a policy of racial inequality: but one diametrically opposite from the spirit of Section 152.

Viswa Sadasivan raised a cogent concern with the example of the SAP schools. Manifest of the government’s bent towards Chinese cultural hegemony and Confucian values, Michael Barr noted in Constructing Singapore that in 1985, when measured against mainstream schools, SAP schools had a better teacher-student ratio of 22.8% while the expenditure per student was 56.45% higher.

Meanwhile, the government’s ‘responsibility to protect, safeguard, support, foster, promote their … educational … interest and the Malay language’ entailed the closure of Malay-medium schools.

Compounding this is the whole-hearted devotion of the entire state apparatus in promoting the annual Speak Mandarin Campaigns, which runs the real risk of alienating and marginalizing one-quarter of the population that is not proficient in Mandarin.

The Malay Snowflake

Lee also argued that the PAP style of racial stratification was necessary, since ‘we will not be able to get a Chinese minister or an Indian minister to persuade Malay parents to look after their daughters more carefully and not have teenage pregnancies.’ It was more appropriate to get MUIS and Mendaki to form ‘a committee to try and reduce the numbers of such delinquents’.

The uncharacteristic display of sensitivity notwithstanding, this perspective affirms the notion of Malays suffering from cultural deficit (and by extension of Lee’s eugenics, a biological deficit as well) and perpetuates the impression that Malays are delicate snowflakes requiring special care and attention.

However, it may be worthwhile to examine the race-centric approach that the PAP seemingly adopts with every problem that plagues the Malay community. It would be inconceivable to think of teenage pregnancies as a problem isolated only in the Malay community; rather, this delinquency can be viewed as a product of socio-economic hardship.

Hence, what is essentially a socio-economic problem has unnecessarily acquired a racial element that leads to the further reinforcement of negative racial stereotypes. It may be that ethnic-based self-help bodies such as Mendaki are aggravating this predicament, since it provides a convenient community-oriented outlook to manage any given problems.

Racially Unequal: It’s their Fault

The deeper implication of Lee’s speech is that the perpetuation of racial inequality is not the fault of the government’s, but the minorities.

By citing the constraint of Section 152 to dismiss the practicality of racial equality, Lee effectively pins the blame of the government’s racially unequal policies on the need to provide ‘extra care’ to the minorities.

Therefore, the stumbling block to a sense of civic nationhood – where the ideal of ‘regardless of race, language and religion’ is lived up to – is not the government, but the pesky constitutional need to protect minority interests.

It is the Malays and Indians, who need to be protected and taken care of, they are the ones who are thwarting your idealistic notion of racial equality, Mr Viswa!

Abolishing 152

Lee mentioned that the abolition of Section 152 would cause some ‘grave disquiet’, but resentment, if any, to its repeal is misplaced. Looking at the flimsy substance that Section 152 provides to the Malays, it is doubtful that even they would rue its dismissal.

As it stands, Section 152 hardly accords any privilege that is over-and-out of those provided to other races. The Mendaki TTFS can remain, or else be integrated into a national pool that can fund all students from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, regardless of their race.

The Administration of Muslim Law Act, although arising from a separate article – 153 – may be affected, but there are surely legal avenues to provide for the effective administration of Muslim affairs without having to entrench a principle of racial inequality. In any case, it may be a judicious time to examine whether it is necessary to place MUIS under the state subordination, given that the churches have operated fine under the non-governmental umbrella of the National Council of Churches Singapore (NCCS).

Sharia courts can also remain without interfering with racial equality, as the British have shown. Behaving as ‘arbitration tribunals’ under the Arbitration Act of 1996, the sharia courts, along with Jewish courts, have effectively functioned without having to impose a state of racial inequality in Britain.

Mental Gymnastics

Whatever their sentimental attachment, Malays would rather have a choice of racial equality over Section 152 if the former will mean that they can finally enter the navy and serve in the sensitive vocations of the armed forces.

Lee’s was a fine display of mental gymnastics as he held up an empty clause devoid of meaning to defend racial inequality in favour of the minorities, when the concern was the racial dominance of the majority.

As much as it is amusing, it is also damaging to our nation-building efforts. In his parting shot to Viswa, Lee said that ‘Brahmins will not be in Sinda. It is the non-Brahmins who are in Sinda’. Lee seems to have confused socio-economic disparity with racial inequalities.

That’s the price we pay for living in racial silos.
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ricochet
post Sep 10 2009, 12:16 AM
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QUOTE (tangawizi @ Sep 5 2009, 03:34 PM) *
u mean malays get discount in housing and education? that's fair right? but should be on means-testing rather than race-based... some of my malays mates are rich ya know?


based on household income. In Malaysia, as long as you know somebody, even the millionaires kids get to go overseas on govt scholarship but only for Malays unless you are sami vellu's kids
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tangawizi
post Sep 16 2009, 12:07 PM
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do u like malays in Singapore better than malays in Msia??
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elleX0
post Sep 21 2009, 05:50 AM
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QUOTE (tangawizi @ Aug 31 2009, 07:09 PM) *
[color="#000000"][/color]

This must then mean that MM approves of Malaysia's special privileges for Bumiputras? How interesting!
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swingdoctor
post Sep 21 2009, 08:06 AM
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QUOTE (elleX0 @ Sep 21 2009, 05:50 AM) *
This must then mean that MM approves of Malaysia's special privileges for Bumiputras? How interesting!

No he never said that.
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elleX0
post Sep 22 2009, 03:39 AM
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QUOTE (swingdoctor @ Sep 21 2009, 02:06 PM) *
No he never said that.

QUOTE
IN A rare intervention in Parliament, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew rose yesterday to 'bring the House back to earth' on the issue of racial equality in Singapore.

Spelling out the Government's approach to the treatment of different races, he pointed out that the Constitution of Singapore itself enjoins the Government to give Malays a 'special position', rather than to 'treat everybody as equal'.

He rebutted as 'false and flawed' the arguments by Nominated Member of Parliament Viswa Sadasivan calling for equal treatment for all races.


Maybe I misunderstood the original article. But surely what is acceptable in the Constitution of Singapore must by inference also be an acceptable philosophy in Malaysia? LKY cannot say that what is right in Singapore is not right for Malaysia. And the implication is that Malays are so handicapped that they need "a special position." Or that they are the chosen peoples and have to have a special position. I thought that all men were equal in the eyes of god?
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swingdoctor
post Sep 22 2009, 05:15 PM
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QUOTE (elleX0 @ Sep 22 2009, 03:39 AM) *
Maybe I misunderstood the original article. But surely what is acceptable in the Constitution of Singapore must by inference also be an acceptable philosophy in Malaysia? LKY cannot say that what is right in Singapore is not right for Malaysia. And the implication is that Malays are so handicapped that they need "a special position." Or that they are the chosen peoples and have to have a special position. I thought that all men were equal in the eyes of god?

Well thats like saying what is acceptable in the US is also acceptable in Canada.

Besides don't forget that in Singapore, Malays are minorities while in Malaysia they are not. The rights of the majority seldom if ever need to be protected. Look worldwide, the repressed group of people are always the minority.

Yes in God's eyes all men are created equal but men don't always treat men equally.
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elleX0
post Sep 23 2009, 03:35 AM
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Positive discrimination, is no different from nepotism, or race/colour/religious discrimination and once you embark on that route, you are on the slippery road to disaster, as you can observe all over the world.
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tangawizi
post Oct 1 2009, 01:31 PM
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if you know the PAP well, u'd understand they like to intimidate the citizenry with threats of such nature, that we are a red dot in a sea of green...

u surely understand what that means and why it cows the population into submitting to PAP rule for so many decades and more to come, right?? naughty.gif
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ricochet
post Oct 1 2009, 07:55 PM
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QUOTE (tangawizi @ Sep 17 2009, 01:07 AM) *
do u like malays in Singapore better than malays in Msia??


I always tell this to people......IN POLITICS THEY ARE DIFFERENT BUT IN RELIGION THEY ARE ONE. How to believe them? embarassedlaugh.gif
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fullout
post Oct 9 2009, 09:03 AM
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QUOTE (ricochet @ Oct 1 2009, 07:55 PM) *
I always tell this to people......IN POLITICS THEY ARE DIFFERENT BUT IN RELIGION THEY ARE ONE. How to believe them? embarassedlaugh.gif


Yes singapore should give their government and power to the malays. Then see how their country turns into a 3rd world country biggrin.gif
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DrGieL3
post Oct 10 2009, 08:11 AM
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Poor malays in Singapore ... De Jure .... Yes .... but De Facto .. No
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elleX0
post Oct 11 2009, 05:17 AM
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All references to special privileges should be expunged from any constitution asap. All Man was made equal under god. In practice a good government uses their discretion like in real life.
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samheisfl
post Oct 12 2009, 04:06 AM
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Interestingly, those who against racist are the real racist..? Esp in this thread..
Seriously, it is interesting...

BTW, I'm back Rico.. haha.. where's your amoi(s)..?
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elleX0
post Oct 12 2009, 07:29 AM
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Prove it
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p0734334
post Oct 18 2009, 02:04 PM
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Frankly speaking, i don't trust Muslims as much as i would of my fellow Chinese. Putting it bluntly, they are more prone to extremist thinking. Besides, they rely on their religion to base views on, instead of looking at things at an objective viewpoint.
They are less innovative and suffer a lack of both far-sight and insight.
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ricochet
post Oct 19 2009, 09:58 AM
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QUOTE (samheisfl @ Oct 12 2009, 05:06 PM) *
Interestingly, those who against racist are the real racist..? Esp in this thread..
Seriously, it is interesting...

BTW, I'm back Rico.. haha.. where's your amoi(s)..?


dei macha....HAPPY DEEPAVALI da...yeenadei..where have you been la macha!!

Amoi....many la....where you want it to be delivered?
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