6 August 2015
Singapore's socio-politico-economic system places unnecessary obstacles in the way of the Malay community and thwarts its progress in society. As a result, Singapore is not only not developing its full potential but also losing an integral part of our national identity.
On the economic front, for example, the Malay community lags behind our other ethnic communities and the wide income disparities seen nationwide affects Malays more than our other ethnic groups. The education system also puts Malays at a disadvantage.
These issues have resulted in great unhappiness within Singapore's Malay community. Left unaddressed, this unhappiness will grow, cause friction in society and divide Singaporeans.
This is not a Malay problem or a Chinese problem or an Indian problem or a Eurasian problem – it is a Singaporean problem that requires the attention of all Singaporeans.
The SDP has proposed a 10-point plan to improve the conditions of the Malay community in Singapore:
Improve economic conditions
A paper published by the Nanyang Technogical University found that 20 percent of Malay families live on less than $1,500 a month. The SDP's recommendation of a Minimum Wage law will help to uplift the Malay community economically.
Nationalise preschool education
Researchers at Harvard University found that kindergarten education can affect learning and classroom achievement of students. The Government should take charge of kindergartens and provide trained teachers and inexpensive fees instead of leaving preschools unregulated.
Lower tertiary education fees
Malays make up only 5 percent of university students, compared to 22 percent for the Chinese and 35 percent for Indians. To help reduce this gap, the SDP proposes that tertiary education fees be lowered so that students from needy families can afford it.
Presently, madrasahs do not receive state funds even though their students sit for the PSLE and the O-levels. Madrasahs should receive state funding, consistent with the Government funding of missionary schools. In return, madrasah schools will recruit non-Muslim teachers to teach secular subjects.
End discrimination in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)
Distrust of Singaporean Malays who serve in the SAF will breed disloyalty and negatively affect our country's national security. Recruitment and promotion of SAF personnel, including NSmen, should be based on performance and not race.
Introduce the Fair Employment Act
Anti-discrimination legislation should be introduced to minimise workplace discrimination against minority ethnic groups, including hiring practices in institutions like the SAF.
Abolish the Ethnic Integration Programme (EIP)
The EIP restricts where ethic minorities may live which negatively affects the re-sale prices of their HDB flats. The EIP should be abolished.
Make Yayasan MENDAKI non-partisan
MENDAKI was set up more than 30 years ago to raise the level of education of Malays. After three decades, the majority of Singapore's Malays are still lagging behind in the educational field. This is because the organisation's leadership has been politicised – the organisation is chaired by PAP minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim. MENDAKI's governing body should, instead, be chosen from civil society and Malay-Muslim organisations.
Make housing affordable
As Malays disproportionately occupy the lower strata of income-earners, increases in basic necessities such as housing affect them the most. To resolve this problem, the SDP has proposed the Non-Open Market (NOM) flat scheme where HDB sells flats without adding the cost of land. (See our proposal on housing here.)
Make health care affordable
Like housing, expensive health care affects lower-income Singaporeans the most. As a disproportionate number of Malays find themselves in this category, an affordable health care system goes a long way to alleviate the economic problems faced by the Malay community.
Read the full paper A Singapore For All Singaporeans: Addressing The Concerns Of The Malay Community here.