Thursday, August 21, 2008

Least Favourite Child

The Singapore government has always prided itself on maintaining racial and religious harmony in Singapore. But has this outward appearance of tolerance translated into true inclusiveness for all races? During their recent National Day celebrations, the Straits Times on 10th August published an article by one of their journalists, a young "tudunged" Malay/Muslim woman, about her thoughts and hopes on being a Singaporean.

In her article, Nur Dianah Suhaimi poignantly concluded, "Each year, come Aug 9, my father, who never had the opportunity to do national service, dutifully hangs two flags at home - one on the front gate and the other by the side gate."

"I wonder if putting up two flags is his way of making himself feel like a better-loved child of Singapore."

Read the full article, here.


  1. Thank you Sir for posting this topic. As a fellow Malaysian, I share the writer feelings too as a minority. Sometimes I feel like a step child because of my skin color. I only hope that Singapore and Malaysia government can learn to love their minorities a lot more.

    Maybe my Malay friends might suggest me to move to Singapore since I'll be treated fairer or better. My answer is no! Unlike the writer, Malaysia is the only home I know. Regardless of how I'm treated, this is my home. I'm born in Malaysia and I'll definitely die here too. I can't imagine myself being a citizen of another country.

  2. Sir,

    At least her father was not distressed enough to hang the flags upside down?

  3. lucky for her...

    here the non-malay was told to 'balik tongsan' or 'balik india' and more often than not by the very malay mp we voted for.

  4. This is not new. But the Singapore Malays have always regarded themselves better than Malays in Malaysia.

    Obviously they are not equal to the Chinese ruling class who would not trust them to lead the army. And this same rulers want their DAP cousins in Malaysia to promote a Malaysian Malaysia, when they would only practise a Chinese Singapore.

    The days when Malays here end up like Singapore Malays are fast approaching.

  5. Captain,

    At least she don't have ministers who want to bath their sword with malay blood.

  6. It is not easy to compare the environment of one country to another because of differing circumstances. The test should be in the eating of the pudding! In a small city like Singapore, its survival is definitely dependent on its ability to surpass those who have more natural resources. Hence the very close-guarded statistics of her investment resources which are dependent on a world without too much turbulence which can wipe out their savings. I believe over the years, once the political environment in ASEAN has matured, its policy will change. Certainly, it will never give eternal clutch to anyone to enjoy!!

  7. Nur Dianah Suhaimi’s article is heart-rending.

    There r issues need to be asked. Examples like why her father was not allow to enlisted in national service? Could it be because prior to S’pore’s independence in1964, there is NO national service? During that time S’pore was part of M’sia.

    Assuming her father finished HSC at about 18yrs old in 1973, S’pore national service was just at her infancy. Many HSC leavers (of all races) were not enlisted for national service for one reason & others. So what’s her father’s reason for non acceptance into national service then?

    As of today all male S’poreans, irrespective of race origin, have to serve in national service for 2 years, unless of severe medical grounds, immediately after Form6. So the question of “In my family and among my Malay friends, being enlisted in the army was like hitting the jackpot.” needs quick & clear answer.

    Then she qualified with her own answer – “But there are more of them now.” Why more now & NOT all?

    Let’s don’t look too deep into this S’pore problem. This is S’pore’s problem, period!

    Yet, can we as Malaysian look at such issue without biasness? Almost every Malaysians have someone, who is a Singaporean. The relationship of S’pore & M’sia is just too intimate through history, through kinship & through feelings!

    Let’s look at the BIG picture. By all means condemn the discriminations that happened in S’pore, just because of one’s colour & religion.

    BUT it DOES NOT justify such happenings to be allowed in Malaysia. Tick-for-tack? My foot!

    S’pore is a separate sovereign country. M’sia DOES NOT need to follow the teaching of an-eye-for-an-eye for incidents happened outside her sovereignty. We must not allow ourselves to be a follower of bigotry just because of the attachments of our feeling, religion, & race to the depressed, especially someone so closed as S’porean.

    This article will definitely goes around the blogsphere , especially during the coming PP by-election. Feelings will be played up. Sentiment will be stirred.

    At the moment the list of the PR shadow cabinet is playing around town. The tendrils of racism are trying to throw the Malay M’sian into the ketuanan mood. Ha! Only 8 out of 32 in DSAI ‘proposed’ cabinet is Malay, in a Malay majority country! Will this drive the Malay M’sian to amok?

    I say let the govt administration be as blind as the justice. Only the capable, just & god-fearing bangsa M’sians be in the cabinet. Let M’sian governs M’sian – irrespective of colour & religion. Only then can Malaysia stands tall & proud.

    Lets form our OWN Malaysia chapter of nationhood of equality.


  8. Singaporean malays never need any tongkat to succeed in life. When you see them driving a merc or living in a bungalow,you can be sure that they did it on their own merit. It is what you call "maruah". Sure that are grievances here and there but we think we are better off in Singapore than to migrate to Malaysia where malays are the majority....I think know why?


  9. Nothing new, I have heard such stories before. The army did not trust the Malays and even though they served the National Service just like any other Singaporean, they are assigned unimportant position.

  10. "So the question of “In my family and among my Malay friends, So the question of “In my family and among my Malay friends, being enlisted in the army was like hitting the jackpot.” needs quick & clear answer..” needs quick & clear answer."

    Just a quick clarification... in Singapore, NS is not exclusively served in the Army. There are other branches of uniformed services such as the Navy, Air Force, Police and Civil Defense. Historically a fair bit of Civil Defense NSmen are Malays. This is what the writer is talking about when she said “In my family and among my Malay friends, being enlisted in the army was like hitting the jackpot.”

  11. It was not really all bad for her father - he was able to enter university straight from school and not delay his career for 2 years if not more.

    Perhaps her Bugis grandfather means that her father may have been just a PR at the time?

    As for Malays having to pay school fees since 1990 it just show that the government has succeeded in moving from a race-based to a needs based policy and that helps the whole nation.

    Schools have special schemes now to assist any poor student with ability to study even to university level.

    If the Malaysian BN government had such needs based schemes it would still be strongly supported.

    As for religious sensitivities, maybe her colleagues do not want to offend her with assignments that she may find akward - after all in Malaysia you know that Muslim cashiers at supermarkets do not pack non-halal products into your shopping bag but in Singapore they do this without a fuss.

    Maybe you can encourage her dad to volunteer his time in some charity work and contribute where he likes.


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