The IPS survey was very clear. Race can matter. It has not gone away
As a Malay, I could see your concern that this means it will be ages before we have another Malay President and if this is the case, then the community might think that a multi-racial Singapore is just lip service.
I could see why you were quick to allay fears that this might be an issue of tokenism. You keep telling me that there are a lot of qualified Malays that can serve in the Republic’s highest office and they will met the same strict criteria’s that were set for all the other races (i.e race is not a shortcut to be a President)
But I want to also bring to your attention two important points.
If you can trust a Malay as a President, surely you can also trust a Malay in sensitive military units (especially the Navy)
If you Singaporeans acknowledge that space should be allocated for minorities to serve in the highest office, by logic surely you must also agree that space must be allocated for them in other areas such as our sister’s right to wear the tudung as frontline uniform officers.
How is it that we are allowed to be a President of a multi-racial Singapore when we cannot even be considered to help defend our multi-racial country by serving in certain military units?
There is no point telling me that these are different issues because they are one and the same – we are talking about negating the same minority spaces in the same country.
I do acknowledge that Singapore is a very young country and although we have accomplished much, there are still things that we are fumbling around to make it work better.
A qualified Malay President, democratically elected and earning the mandate of the people is not just tokenism for tokenism sake.
It is also an inspiration.
It is message sent to all, that Singapore is for everyone – no matter our race
That to him (beyond his skin colour), ALL our devotions and loyalty are due.
It is ironic to think that the issue of race, which has constantly divided Singaporeans, might also be the very factor that unites us as one Singapore.
It is not captured in the Constitutional Commission Report but this is a power that none of the previous (or future) Tans could ever achieve.
Any of the Tans with experience, guidance and capable advisors could safeguard past reserves and protect the integrity of the Public Service however none of them will be able to unify Singapore the way a Malay President could.
And this in my opinion, is the true power of a Malay President.