Did Mahathir provoke the Singapore Malays? Yes! he did and quite rightly so.What Mahathir inferred of the Singapore Malays was not far from the truth.
Are the Malays in Singapore marginalised?
Indeed, they are, but they are just too ashamed to admit that they are and looked down upon by the majority race. This can be clearly seen in the job market both in the private sector and the civil service where preference were for Chinese first, Indian second and Malay last.
Unless the Malay is really outstanding his chance of securing the job against his Chinese compatriot of equal educational standing is almost zero.Most jobs in Singapore called for applicants to be able to speak Mandarin which cancelled out most Malay applicants.The Singapore government also practised a policy of no Malays in sensitive positions in the civil service as their loyalty are much doubted.
In 1986 following the visit of Israeli President Chiam Herzog, which triggered off massive protests in Malaysia the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew questioned Malay's loyalty and said "Are we sure that in a moment of crisis, when the heat is on, we are all together heart to heart? I hope so. But we ought to have a fallback position and quickly fill up all the missing hearts if some go missing."
In February 1987 in an article in FEER, Lee's son commented further on the status of the Malays in an open forum on why Malays do not hold sensitive positions in the armed forces. Explaining that there are no Malay fighter pilots, for example, because their religion might conflict with their duty to Singapore, he provoked a backlash of criticism from the Muslim community in addition to Singapore's Muslim neighbours. The article goes on to say, "these statements represented some of the most frank public commentaries ever made by Singapore's political leaders on the role of the Malays, which continues to stir emotions among the Malay community.
In Sept 19, 1999 the Straits Time reported Lee, in a forum with some polytechnic students said "If, for instance, you put in a Malay officer who's very religious and who has family ties in Malaysia in charge of a machine gun unit, that's a very tricky business.
"We've got to know his background. I'm saying these things because they are real, and if I didn't think that, and I think even if today the Prime Minister doesn't think carefully about this, we could have a tragedy."
"So, these are problems which, as poly students, you're colour-blind to, but when you face life in reality, it's a different proposition."
There are Malay officers in the Singapore Armed Forces but as Lee said they are under watchful eyes just in case their religion or their ethnicity screw up their brains, pointing the guns at Singapore instead of the enemies.
Singapore do not recruit top civil servants regardless of their ethnic origin. It is a government policy in what they say for security reasons they will not place a Malay in sensitive and critical positions because they simply don't trust them. Yet the Malays in Singapore are lulled into believing that they are not marginalised. Discrimination comes in many forms, unpalatable or subtle, Singapore Malays seemed quite happy to ignore the insults.
The Indians are more trusted and many held top management positions in Singapore civil service and GLCs for the simple reason Singapore is not on the southern tip of the Indian sub-continent, it is in the Malay Archipelago surrounded by over 200 million people of the same stock.
Singapore has a deep sense of insecurity.That's the very reason it has built up and strengthened its Air Force to be the best in the region and one that can give them not only a strike first capability but also strike deep into enemy's territories. Its highways could be turned into runways within minutes and the underground mass transit turned into bomb shelters.Singapore is well prepared for any eventualities.It has emulated Israel and its continued survival would be well protected by the Western powers.
Not only Singapore does not trust its Malay citizens , it also does not trust both its neighbours.Can you blame them?
The Singapore Malays are still in a deep slumber, they can't see beyond their HDB flats. If the leaders have openly expressed their doubts about Malays' allegiance and treat them as peripherals what would you call it.......love!!?