The recent comments about the Singapore Malays by Former Malaysia Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim have garnered interest on social media.

Singapore’s relationship with Malaysia has been marked by their fair share of ups and downs (Source:  Today Online). From the agreement on the cost of raw water in the past to the recent High Speed Rail project, Singapore and Malaysia are often seen as fierce competitors who want the best for their economy but they are also good neighbours, who are willing to work with each other for the benefit of her people.

Malaysian Minister Khairy Jamaluddin made a speech during a conference in Singapore last month  – “Malaysia and Singapore needs each other to survive and progress. We must forget our big brother, little brother past”

It is therefore a little awkward when Former Malaysia Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim suggested that the Malays in Malaysia ought to be more like the Malays in Singapore.

This was in response to former Malaysia Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement that “Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would make the local Malays more like Singaporean Malays – that is, allegedly ‘second-class citizens’ and marginalised.”

Zaid reply was that “Singaporean Malays, although a minority, are also not marginalised. Many of them are happy with the Singaporean Government and it would be silly for the PAP (People’s Action Party) to even think of discriminating against Malays and risk forfeiting 15 per cent of the vote.”

Mr Zaid subsequently added that he wished Malays in Malaysia were more like those in Singapore.

“Singaporean Malays do not have the same ‘special treatment’ as their Malaysian counterparts, so you could say that they are worse off than us,” he said. “However, their leaders are clean and the transparent system of government there means it’s a lot more difficult to siphon off public money for private use.”

“Singapore also has a good and fair housing policy, for example, and I am sure Malays here would be better off if we had the same thing,”

“The difference is this: Singaporean Malays reap the benefits of the modern advanced economy that is Singapore and are encouraged by political leaders to develop themselves,” said Mr Zaid.

“I can’t wait for Malays here to be like Singaporean Malays.”

Mr Zaid comments have forced the Malay community in Singapore to rethink about their situation.

Sure there are complains about Malays being marginalised in sectors such as the MINDEF when they could not enter certain vocations. Singapore Malays also cry foul about the dilution of Islam in Singapore when the volume for the call to prayer  in mosques was asked to be lowered or when the petition to wear hijab in school and uniform groups was declined.

Malays continue to be a minority in Singapore making up approximately 14% of the population but compared to our neighbours and compared to 50 years ago, our standard of living has improved tremendously.

They are now more Malay pilots, doctors and even Ministers in Cabinet. Malays are now home owners, degree holders and professionals in their fields. Wealth is also increasing as the amount of Zakat has been increasing over the years.

Despite the challenges that  Singapore Malays face as a community, we must still be thankful and preserve with what we have (almost 70 quality mosques build to allow Muslims fulfill their religious obligation), maintain a corrupt free society and so forth so that succeeding generations can continue to enjoy a higher quality of life for themselves and their children. (Source: The Straits Times)

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(Source: The Straits Times 2010)

Its ironic that it takes a comment from an outsider to make the community realise how privilege they are as Malays in Singapore. With the Singapore Government rolling out initiatives such as #SkillsFuture in #Budget2015, Singapore Malays must continue to seize the opportunity to improve themselves and leverage on meritocracy to bring the community further progress.

Source: Sloone wordpress