Saturday 27 June 2015

Mahathir's claim that Singaporean Malays are marginalised falls flat

The Straits Times, 26 Jun 2015

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has again resurrected the issue of the supposed "marginalisation" of Malays in Singapore as part of his strident campaign to unseat Prime Minister Najib Razak.

But at least one prominent Malay politician in Malaysia has brushed aside the former premier's remarks, saying Singaporean Malays are not marginalised.

"I can't wait for Malays here to be like Singaporean Malays," said Mr Zaid Ibrahim, a former law minister who left Umno and joined the opposition.

In a video released on Sunday, Tun Dr Mahathir said that if Datuk Seri Najib stays in power, the Malays in Malaysia could become marginalised like their Singapore counterparts.

Speaking during a closed-door forum on June 17 with several non-governmental organisations at the Perdana Foundation, Dr Mahathir referred to the controversy surrounding the state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, repeating that he found it difficult to imagine how it racked up RM42 billion (S$15 billion) in debts.

Mr Zaid responded on Sunday saying he disagreed with Dr Mahathir's claim.

"Sorry Tun if under Najib Malays here will become like Spore Malays; I will give him full support. Malays under Najib will be Talibans," the former minister wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Mr Zaid issued a clarification in his blog, claiming that an online news portal had suggested that his tweet meant that he would not mind Malays in Malaysia being marginalised as long as they do not become extremists like the Taleban.

"Malays are the majority ethnic group in Malaysia and have complete control over government and its apparatus, so to talk of Malay marginalisation is absolute nonsense," he said in the post on his blog, The Zaidgeist.

Mr Zaid reiterated that he did not want to see Malays becoming marginalised and poor.

"Malays should be given the best opportunities to improve and they deserve much more than what they currently have. But not all Malays in Malaysia are marginalised. In fact, they are first-class citizens at least on paper. Unfortunately, they have not been able to reap the benefits of first-class treatment because they do not have a good government with honest leaders," he wrote.

"That's what Malays here need. Good government with good, clean and honest leaders."


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 to even think of discriminating against Malays and risk forfeiting 15 per cent of the vote.

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. In Malaysia, Malays are happy to let their leaders make all the money as long as they promise to "defend" bahasa, bangsa and agama (language, race and religion).

I can't wait for Malays here to be like Singaporean Malays.

- Malaysian opposition politician Zaid Ibrahim, a former law minister

Lives of Singapore's Malays 'have improved tremendously'
By Wong Siew Ying, The Straits Times, 27 Jun 2015

MINISTER-IN-CHARGE of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday brushed aside comments by former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who claimed that Singapore's Malays are marginalised.

Their quality of life and the standard of living today have "improved tremendously" compared with 50 years ago, noted Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

"Malays are now home owners, we have a better-educated population and wealth has been increasing in the Malay/Muslim community," he told reporters at a Mendaki event.

"So, by and large, I think the state of affairs of the community here is quite good," he said.

Tun Dr Mahathir said in a video released on Sunday that if Prime Minister Najib Razak stayed in power, the Malays in Malaysia could become marginalised like their Singapore counterparts.

His claim, an old assertion he resurrected in his campaign to unseat Mr Najib, drew an almost immediate rebuttal from Malaysia's former law minister Zaid Ibrahim.

He said he would be happy if the Malays in Malaysia became like Singaporean Malays, adding that "Singaporean Malays reap the benefits of the modern advanced economy that is Singapore and are encouraged by political leaders to develop themselves".

Yesterday, Dr Yaacob noted that the remarks were Mr Zaid's "own analysis".

He added that what is most important for him and his community is to be thankful for what they have in Singapore now compared with 50 years ago.

It still faces challenges but the key is in moving forward as a community and as "a member of the Singaporean family", he said.

"We preserve what we have, we maintain the standards that we have lived by - meritocracy, corruption-free and so on - to ensure that the succeeding generation can also enjoy a higher quality of life for themselves and their children," Dr Yaacob said.

In yet another attack on Prime Minister Najib Razak, Dr Mahathir Mohamad accused the embattled leader of being the "proxy" of Singapore and businessman Low Teck Jho.
Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, July 16, 2015

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