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Singapore’s only Malay-languagenewspaper Berita Harian (BH) reported on the SDP’s Malay policy paperlast Saturday. This came after the party reported that BH hadcensored the SDP’s proposals to address the concerns of the Malaycommunity.$CUT$
In its piece headlined SDP’s effortto woo the Malays, BH said thatthe party had proposeda 10-point plan to improve the socioeconomic position of the Malaycommunity in Singapore.
Itcited Dr Chee Soon Juan as saying that the policy paper, titled ASingapore for All Singaporeans: Addressing the Concerns of the MalayCommunity, is an effort to create equal opportunity for Singaporean Malaysso that they can compete fairly with Singaporeans of other races.
Thereport also quoted SDP Chairman, Mr Jufrie Mahmood as saying that theparty “wishes to see the government treat the Malaycommunity in a fairer manner, just like the other communities,without any sidelining or discrimination”.
It highlighted several of proposals inthe paper: measures such as minimum wage that would help improve theeconomic position of 20 percent of Malay families whose income isless than $1,500 per month, to make healthcare cost more affordable,and for the government to take over the administration of pre-schoolsand kindergartens.
It also mentioned that the SDP planwould make publichousing more affordable and review factors that are holding back the educational performance of Malay students. The report quoted the statistic in the SDP paper that in thefield of higher eduction the enrollment of Malays in localuniversities averages only 5% compared to 22% for the Chinese and 35%for Indians.
On this issue, the report said, the SDP questions theseriousness of Mendakiand its interests in making a PAP minister (Dr Yaacob Ibrahim) chairman of its board andseveral PAP MPs as directors of the board.
“This is the first time anopposition party is constructively addressing the issues facedby and voiced out for decades by the Malay community,”BH quoted Mr Jufrie.
Read also SDP’s 10-point plan to improve conditions of Malays
After the SDP posted online the absence of the BH in the launch of our paper (see here), the leaders of the Malay online community strongly criticised the censorship. Some had even suggested starting an alternative Malay news site. (BH had also refused to report on aMalay public forum that the SDP organised in 2012.)
The BH report is significant in two respects: One, it signals that the Singapore Press Holdings sees the growing futility of censoring opposition’s views in the Internet age.
And while one swallow does not a summer make, it is an important development that the Malay newspaper has reported on an SDP activity in between elections which it rarely does. The SDP hopes to see an open media environment take root in Singapore.
Two, the report (coming on the heels of online criticism) suggests that the Malay community leaders, just like all Singaporeans, are concerned about the lack of a free flow of information in Singapore and are willing to speak up against it.
Keeping our citizens ignorant about the positive developments of the SDP while uncritically supporting the PAP should become a thing of the past.
To read the full paper A Singapore for All Singaporeans: Addressing the Concerns of the Malay Community, please click here.