Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Malay Muslim high tea for PAP only

A Malay friend recently told me that a community group for Malay Muslims had organised a high tea reception to welcome the “two new People's Action Party Malay MPs”, which the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs saw fit and proper to attend as a guest.

He asked me, “What about the new opposition Malay MP?”

The report noted that “about 100 others, including leaders of various Malay/Muslim organisations as well as Malay MPs - were also present”.

To the ordinary person, events like these would disturb greatly.

Leaders of any community are pillars of inclusivity. Their participation in such an event may send the wrong signal to the general population. For example, it could signal that one, for the sake of scoring political points or gaining political traction, is willing to pursue a partisan agenda, which could have the dire consequence of polarising further an already fragmented society.

It would disturb one even more that a Minister, who is meant to represent all Muslim persons, saw it fit to endorse such an event. Could he, for example, have made it a condition for him attending that the event be one for all new Malay MPs?

Nevertheless, I am not surprised by this development. (I dare even suggest that mine is the view that represents more Malay Muslim persons.)

It underscores to me the state of affairs that pervades the Malay Muslim leadership presently: a commitment to continue with a pro-PAP agenda because it is the political party that has taken care of them, and it is quite possibly the only party that will continue to look out actively for Malay Muslim interests.

The last general election was unprecedented for many reasons. The most controversial precedent being that an almost unknown Malay man, one Muhammad Faisal bin Abdul Manap, stood for elections against a well-known entrenched Malay leader, the great Zainul Abidin Rasheed, and won.

This victory will now go down in the history books of Singapore: the first elected opposition Malay MP in the Legislature, since Singapore achieved independence and separated from the Malaysians.

Reading the pages of Berita Harian the day after Polling Day, one would not get this awesome sense of history. Instead, one would come away with the awful feeling that Berita Harian tried as best as it reasonably could to down-play this development.

Some suggest that this was because the Berita Harian did not wish to lose readers by reacting positively to the outcome. I got the same sense attending an event for Malay Muslim leaders a few weeks later. Any support expressed whatsoever to this outcome was in the form of an almost reluctant acceptance of this Malay Muslim opposition leader in the Legislature.

Others point to the sociology (and perhaps loyalty) of Berita Harian’s news-room. For a long time, it has been a fertile recruitment ground for the ruling party and its coverage leaves no doubt that its editorial position is one highly supportive of the ruling party.

The well-known Malay leader that lost the election had been the face of the newspaper for some two decades before he pursued political office. In this context, it would have been heretical to make heroic his challenger.

The fact that there has not been a single word of protest by a Malay Muslim person to such partisan events or coverage shows that the Malay Muslim person that supports an opposition party may find himself or herself in the minority. It is reasonable to suggest that such a supporter may well be expendable to the Malay Muslim leadership.

If the Minister for Muslim Affairs had even suggested that the partisan event be extended to the new Malay opposition MP, he may have found himself facing a backlash within the community; the kind he faced most recently when being quoted out of context that Malay should be taught as a foreign language.

The Malay Muslim leadership is merely mirroring the sentiments of the general Malay Muslim community in pursuing their interests in a manner that is pro-PAP – as much as such an agenda would appear partisan or polarising to some.

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?
Do leave a comment as it will make a difference.


Ben Kunhi said...

The Malay community is often short-sighted and easily grateful. $5,000 a year for enough for the Malay Sultan in 1819, a small resettlement estate was enough for those living in Geylang Serai. Hence the PAP is good enough for these folks. They just dont get that though things are good for them now, they could have been better.

Ben Kunhi said...

Meant to say "was enough for the Malay Sultan"...

Anonymous said...

The myth of the monolithic Malay community is typical of the unthinking stereotype which the MSM seeks to perpetuate.

The writer falls prey to the exact same ploy of the very MSM.

In a world of diversity, only the Malay-Muslim community remains 'united' in one position.

Diversity for all, except the Malays? Not!

Anonymous said...

PAP is well known for practicing double standards and hypocrisy. There are also many voices responding to reports of the above gathering carried by todayonline and other internet news portal. Everyone had spoken out as to why only newly elected Malay Muslim MPs from PAP and and not WP.

This is a community event and not an in-house PAP event. When you preach to have an inclusive society why are you practicing exclusion and division openly and shamelessly?

I will not be surprised to see more Malay Muslim professionals and qualified people joining the opposition cause when you see such hypocritical practices for PAP's partisan interest.

Anonymous said...

Malays are being malays, always politically naive. Avoiding changes whenever wherever possible. Easily thankful, greatful and accepting whatever comes their way. Maybe due to Religion or tradition, difficult to differentiate. Being loyal to a ruling party like being loyal to a Sultan. Maybe it will take 20 years more for the community to change as long as those born before 1955 are still alive to influence.

Anonymous said...

To Ben Kunhi and anonymous @ 6.56pm, you can just take back your condescending attitude back up where the sun don't shine or the empty space that sits between your ears. I am not surprised at your off beat awareness and understanding of the Singaporean Malay community TODAY, let alone that of the community 50 years or 100 years before, but everyone and their boogers knows (and I'm pretty sure the community FEELS it themselves) how the Malay community is being shortchanged. And I do mean everyone. You must be seriously thick-headed to think otherwise! No Singaporean would need Lily Rahim to spell out what was and continues to be in front of our eyes.
AND may I suggest you both go and read Syed Hussein Alatas' 'The Myth of the Lazy Native' to wake up your nonsensical idea about the 'politically naive' Malays as subjects of the Sultan. Which century are you stuck in and how can I help you out of it??

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the waste of good English on the two clowns upstairs ... back to my response to the post:
Berita Harian is, you know, like ST in the Malay language. Much like the other SPH-owned dailies, really. So I am seriously questioning your expectation of it to actually give due credit to the opposition!

As for this rather dubious statement:

"The fact that there has not been a single word of protest by a Malay Muslim person to such partisan events or coverage shows that the Malay Muslim person that supports an opposition party may find himself or herself in the minority. It is reasonable to suggest that such a supporter may well be expendable to the Malay Muslim leadership."

I really want to ask with what confidence do you, as someone who is not a member of this community, posit that “The fact that there has not been a single word of protest by a Malay Muslim”? Can you clarify what is this “word of protest” that you are looking for and where have you been looking? Blogs? Forums? In the newspaper you have dismissed? In the recently published book on GE2011? T-shirts? Graffiti (Which I will admit there is probably none)? Coffeeshops? Mosques? Or have you actually been so privy to the community that you have searched their mouths and fingers all and can declare there to be none?
And who were you looking at/for?

I could perhaps push for Alfian Sa’at’s to make your point moot. He has published this very amusing self-explanatory guide He has also taken the mickey out of some rather … toady comments on George Yeo ‘s Facebook page. And isn’t he also writing the play Cooling Off Day? He even wrote a poem! (But that was 13 years ago. Let’s not get stuck in the past.)

JS Raju said...

Well.. The writer has mentioned that this event could be organised to pursue some interests or favours,which may not necessarily personal. If a pro PAP supporter is organising this event.. He will sure not invite the oppsition MP.. Why put himself in uneceesary spotlight.. By inviting the opposition MP, he could risk the possibility of the Minister not attending.. These people might have some hidden agenda which can benefit their community.. Giving importance to people in power, will be benificial to them.. Let's be practical about this issue please..

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 4.44am/5.02am,being a Malay myself, facts are facts and to reiterate what is truth in my opinion is like being a hypocrite. Malays in general have only talk and talk like empty tin cans or kept quiet to avoid being further marginalized.
We have been marginalized since the Sultanate era till today due to our nature/behaviour.
Please enlighten the Malay community on how to proceed to the future and progress as a whole.
Please enlighten the Malay Community from whom should we seek guidance and financial fundings.
We are not known for wealth sharing, Clan like association, even the Malay Chambers of Commerce is a farce to the real Malays.
Do you know any Malay Singaporean now,whom have the charisma/influence/holding key position or filthy rich to guide/help the Malay community?.
I totally disagree the High Tea to welcome only new Malay MPs from the ruling party but hey!,if you have so many questions can you provide a tinkling of a solution to the Malay Dilemma.

Theo-Democracy said...

That group was only thinking pragmatically in terms of past and future work with the government through MPs who have leverage. Only the government provides per capita grants by the millions for educational, rehabilitative and welfare work.

Ben Kunhi said...

Syed Hussein Alatas is not even a Malay, he's Arab. Please dont be confused between being a Muslim and a Malay. Thats the entire crux of the Malay problem. Confusing being a Muslim and a Malay. Same syndrome Dr Mahathir and Abdullah Badawi and Zainul Abideen Rashid have. Oh by the wah I'm Muslim.