I am a Malay/Muslim and will be voting in the upcoming General Elections in Singapore.
Who do I vote for. What am I voting for. What exactly is it in for me?
I spoke to my parents, my friends, my cousins, even the Malay barber under the void deck where I just had my hair cut.
This used to be Singapore’s land they say but now the Malays are being discriminated left, right and centre …
Mendaki? MUIS? Yaacoob Ibrahim? . . . Ahhhh no point.
They won’t even help their own kind and are just government puppets. How many times have we heard stories of the poor Malay student being turned down by MENDAKI for help or of the needy and broken family being denied MUIS financial disbursements?
There is always that somebody’s friend saying that it is a fact that they are being discriminated because they are Malay.
“Tak boleh kasi chance dengan Cina, Mesti jaga diri sendiri” they remarked. (translated: Cannot give face to the Chinese, we must look after our own)
It was a horror story that Malay children of my generation grew up listening to – that it is tough to be Malay in Singapore.
The stereotype was further enforced when national figures year on year shows that the Malay community form the largest percentage of broken families and are living in rental flats. (Even the PM admitted that they are a group to be concerned about in his latest NDP rally).
Why are the Malays lagging despite article 152 of the constitution:
(2) The Government shall 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.’
Who do I vote for. What am I voting for. What exactly is it in for me and more importantly my community.
Will voting the opposition empower the Malays and increase their standard of living?
I closed my eyes and touched my heart in silence and searched for the answer…..
I want my community to be given opportunities to progress and improve their lives.
I want my community to have equal access to education, healthcare, housing and employment as with the other races
I want my community to be able to practice Islam without fear or prejudice and to be able to perform our religious obligation with relative ease.
I want my community to be able to contribute to the Singapore story and be a part of its success.
I want a minister that stand up for our rights and represent the concerns of the common Makcik and Pakcik in parliament – without reservation.
I want a Minister that speaks good Malay because that Minister is going to be the role model that I ask my child to look up to.
Minutes passed, I steadied my breath, opened my eyes and looked around me.
For a race that comprises only 13% of Singapore’s population, we have 70 well maintained mosques with quality teachers, programmes and support services.
We have grants and subsidies that are set aside for only our community that others do not enjoy, such as the Mosque Building Fund; ensuring that we are able to continue and perform our religious obligations with ease (and not rely solely on donations and auctions to buy land and build a mosque).
Yes, Malays currently form the majority of broken families and stay in rental flats but there are now more programmes than ever to help us ‘get out of the poverty cycle’ – if we but find out about them and play our part instead of listening to hearsays. (ST: Many poor Malays do not seek social aid)
We have Malay pilots, lawyers, doctors and top civil servants. (Speaker of Parliament, i.e. Head of Legislature is Mdm Halimah Yacob)
Even those that came from Madrasahs were given the same opportunity to succeed as their peers who chose the secular programmes.
We are a community that not only receives but also gives back to society – the Yusof Ishak Fund is managed by the Malay community and helps deserving citizens (of all races) with their professorship.
We have access to housing and health care; the same standard with other races. In fact, there is a racial quota for housing to ensure that there will always be space for Malay families in every the estate.
It is time for my community to break away from the stereotypes that we have reinforced on ourselves over the years.
We have to stop the delusion and feel self-entitled to success and protection just because “Singapore was Tanah Melayu” (Singapore was a Malay land and we the indigenous people) in the constitution.
We have just as many opportunities as the other races to succeed in Singapore.
SkillsFuture, Housing Grants and Education were extended to us the same way it was extended to all the other races – if we could but make it count and use it to achieve progress.
I know that despite the best efforts to level the playing field, there still exist discrimination in Singapore. The “tudung issue” is a prime example of that discrimination . … But still . . . it does not explain why we cannot progress.
Come September 11, the Malays in Singapore shall vote.
Some people will always be more equal than us but just like my parents before me, I vote for a government that allows me to be the best I could be as a Muslim and as a Singaporean, regardless of my race and my background.