Why didn’t Berita Harian report on SDP Malay paper?

Singapore Democrats

Berita Harian (BH), the only Malay-language newspaper run by the Singapore Press Holdings, failed to report on the SDP’s policy paper A Singapore for All Singaporeans: Addressing the Concerns of the Malay Community.$CUT$

The SDP’s alternative proposal was launched last weekend, in which we detailed a 10-point plan to stop discrimination against the Malays in Singapore and to help improve the community’s conditions.

Malays in Singapore depend on BH for news and information. Until today, however, the newspaper has not reported on the proposals made despite the policy paper being available online.

In September last year, BH also refused to report on the discussion that took place at the SDP’s public forum Future of Singapore: Do Malays Have a Part? It was at that forum that the SDP announced that we would draw up a policy paper on the Malay community.

A BH reporter was present at the 2012 forum and indicated that he would write a report. But the story never appeared in the newspaper.

However, after the SDP announced our forum, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said that a committee would be appointed to look into the same subject. The committee subsequently published a report titled Suara Musyarawah (voice of diversity). This report was, of course, extensively reported by BH.

BH also reported extensively on a forum organised by the Insitutie of Policy Studies (IPS) and OnePeople.sg, chaired by PAP MP Zainudin Noordin, to discuss findings of the survey on race relations (see here.)

(Ironically, the survey found that 50 percent of Singaporeans do not have a close friend of another race and 40 percent of Singaporeans pre-judge others based on race. See here and here.)

This is the first time that an opposition party has constructively addressed the problem that the Malay community has, for decades, been concerned about. Unfortunately, the one newspaper that matters most to the community has censored the information. The Straits Times (ST), too, has not reported on our policies. Only Lianhe Zaobao covered it.

This could not have been because BH and ST were concerned about reporting on the sensitive topic of race and religion because the police had granted the SDP a permit to hold the public launch of the paper.

It can only be concluded that there is an effort to keep the general Malay community uninformed about the SDP’s alternative ideas.

The SDP also calls for open and mature discussion of the matter and not confine it to the Malay community. The situation that confronts the Malays must be understood by all races in Singapore because it is a national problem.

Read also:
We are wasting our Malay talent
SDP’s 10 point plan to improve Malay conditions

If we are to build a cohesive nation with a strong national identity, we must treat our citizens as Singaporeans, not separate races each taking care of their own problems.

At the IPS forum, another former NMP, Mr Viswa Sadasivan, reiterated this sentiment when he called for “more occasions for open discussion of issues regarding race and religion.”

Unfortunately, it is such politics of separation and censorship that will continue to divide us as Singaporeans and erode our national identity.  

The full paper of A Singapore For All Singaporeans: Addressing the Concerns of the Malay Community is available for download here.

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