Almakhazin: Removing Malay Political Strength – The Ethnic Quota Policy

One of the ways the PAP has removed the political strength of the Malay community is through the implementation of the ethnic quota policy.

This policy was supposedly enacted to stop the development of ethnic “enclaves” in Singapura.

According to PAP Minister Masagos Zulkifli, the ethnic quota policy is one of the successes of the PAP.

However, he admitted that the quota has caused difficulties to some but justified it by saying it helps promote racial harmony. He further claimed that harmony in Singapura is not natural.

His justification that the ethnic quota policy was created to help develop racial harmony is mistaken at best. An analysis of the policy reveal that its main purpose is to weaken the Malay community’s political power.

Even though quotas were set for the different races, this policy was directed at the Malay community. As discussed by Chih Hoong Sin,

“Attention must be given to the general political discourse in Singapore. The identification of Bedok new town as a `Malay enclave’ has to be set in the context of the wider political discourse surrounding the `Malay problem’. While the Chinese and the Indians are certainly over represented in certain new towns (The Straits Times, 19 February 1989), it has been the Malays who have borne a disproportionate amount of government and media attention.”

Chih quoted former PAP Minister Dhanabalan’s comments about Bedok New Town to illustrate how the PAP’s focus was actually on the Malays and not the other races. Dhanabalan had in 1989, referred to a “Malay problem” in Bedok. He stated “that if present trends continue, the Malay population in Bedok will reach 30% in 1991 and 40% in 10 years”.

But why is 30% or 40% a problem? We do not refer to any constituency with 40% Chinese as indicative of a “Chinese problem”.

But for the PAP, a constituency with 30% Malays makes it a problem.

Malays do not support PAP

Contrary to popular claim, Chih argued that the Malays do not support the PAP. In fact, Lee Kuan Yew admitted that most Malays do not support his party.

Chih quoted Kuan Yew as saying, “If we were less skillful, (a Malay opposition party) would have emerged…I know we did not win more than fifty percent of the Malay votes; we never did…”

PAP support in constituencies with large Malay population tend to be much lower than the national average.

The PAP has seen how the Malays have continuously rejected them. In fact, from the 1960s onwards where they almost lost several constituencies( if not for internal problems in SMNO) until the 90s where they almost lost Eunos GRC (currently Aljunied), they know the Malays do not support them.

As Chih argued, “Malay disenchantment with the ruling party has been well-publicized, and the PAP has certainly blamed its narrow wins in certain constituencies in recent elections on the Malay vote…

The call for dispersal has certainly been interpreted as an attempt to undercut the perceived growth and consolidation of Malay anti-PAP votes in existing Malay ‘enclaves’, and to prevent the emergence of new centres of Malay resistance.”

Kuan Yew’s Press Secretary, James Fu admitted “in a letter to the Straits Times Forum page…: `Today with resettlement, every constituency is racially integrated. PKMS can no longer win anywhere in Singapore’ (The Straits Times, 4 March 1988).

The policy was ultimately designed to disperse the Malays so that they will never have the numbers to be politically significant.

Because as Chih noted, “The PAP quickly realized that as long as Malay strongholds persist, their electoral victory in such seats can never be assumed.”

Sin, C. H. (2003). The politics of ethnic integration in Singapore: Malay ‘regrouping’as an ideological construct. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(3), 527-544.


Source: Almakhazin SG

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