Proud to be a Malay Singaporean
This is an article by Khartini Khalid who is pursuing a master's degree in international relations at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. The Fletcher School is renowned for International Relations courses and to be there is itself an accomplishment. I can understand why Khartini felt proud, as an individual and as a Malay Singaporean. She has proven that the Mahathir Myth that Malays are less equal than other racial groups wrong. Khartini told the story of her research project which took her to a Malay village in Negri Seremban. In those few days she discovered how different the Malays in Singapore were from the Malays in Malaysia. The social and political space they live and operate were distinctly different. In Malaysia, different races still live in their own communal quarters while in Singapore, the official policy is to mix the people to avoid a concentration of races in their respective corners. Malaysia and Singapore race relations have developed from these different footings and we can be proud that racial tension has eased off in our case but remains more or less the same in Malaysia since 1969. The whole social/economic and political system in Malaysia revolves around race and Malay dominance, and a govt that promotes superiority of a racial group. In Singapore, racial equality is in our constitution, though an aspiration, nonetheless, the govt takes tremendous effort to prevent race biased tension among the people. Which is a better system is subjective. But one point I like to comment on is that our system will fail miserably if the govt goes about promoting and protecting the interest of one racial group or the majority against the interest of the minority. In fact the govt takes pain to play down on the dominance of the majority group and will come down hard on the majority should it try to exert too much influence or disadvantage the minority. This is the crux of our successful formula. All things being equal, the majority must take a step back to accommodate the minority. The reverse is true in Malaysia and this has resulted in the majority exerting more and more pressure on the minorities with implicit support from the govt. The latest issue of the stamping of the cow's head during a demonstration and the govt playing down the infringement as a non issue is a case in point. Such blatant disrespect of the minority sensitivity will not be tolerated here and the govt is likely to come down hard on the guilty party. We have taken different paths in our social, economic and political development of our people. Only time will tell whether ours is a better or poorer model for the people.