Damanhuri Abas: What To Tell My Children About Meritocracy, Racism Realities, Democracy, Malay Community And Singapore’s Future

Since some remind us to accept and look at the wisdom of the whole episode of a race based Presidential non-election, let me share what I heard, saw, reflected, learned and gathered to tell my children.

1. Meritocracy

– It is a good word thrown around to legitimise why some are not up there (just not ‘good’ enough i.e. PM, top civil servant, etc., etc.)
– It is a good word to justify high paying public salaries i.e. best in private sector will only be attracted to public service for equal salary
– It is good word to excuse clear conflict of interest situations i.e. no other choice as he/she is the best for the position, even though related to one another i.e. so many out there (nepotism?, cronyism?)
– It is a bad word used to apply selective affirmative action (symbolism i.e. Reserved PE, tokenism i.e. GRC – serving political interest)
– It is an abused word – all the while the sacred meritocratic claim is a sad joke

2. Racism Realities

РAcknowledged РMajority privilege expos̩
– Racist – Chinese majority
– Excused – 70% Chinese majority for racial harmony
– Contradiction – GRC minority racial provision to assure minority representation is transferable to majority race (MYT GRC no By-election)
– Undesirable – Madrasah, for its religious exclusivism
– Legitimised – SAP school necessary for elitism
– Institutionalised – HDB only race quota good
– Ignored – i.e. Mindef unspoken security policy (Malays full loyalty doubted) poisoning wider society’s perceptions of Malays for the last 52 years of being inherently untrustworthy for no apparent reason
– Taboo – public not allowed to talk race
– Abused – government exploits race sentiments for political benefits

3. Democracy

– Institutionalised – the parliament
– Institutionalised – judiciary and legislative
– Process – election
– Symbolic – the pledge
– Reality – no press freedom (world press freedom ranking Singapore 151st position, worst than even Afghanistan at 120th)
– Reality – controlled on public debate on policies (Think-tanks not allowed to think, IPS, LKYSPP, etc.)
– Reality – political interest overrides democratic principles and foundations i.e. Constitutional changes with no referendum
– Reality – constant changing the rules and gaming the system eg. constitutional boundary changes, limited campaigning period, cooling day, reserved PE, etc.

4. Malays : Compliant Leadership and Voiceless Community

– Painted as desiring the Presidency even though never consulted and neither asked for it
– Supportive or silent Malay leadership in Government and community legitimising the reserved PE, not in sync with real community’s ground sentiment
– Leadership not willing to criticise Government policy as will impact on funding for their community based institutions – beholden to the Government
– Self-serving impression, prioritising community’s interest above that of the country’s interest to put the best independent individual to be President
– Leaders colluded in elaborate scheme to deny Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s genuine chance to be President that the people really wanted
– Sellout community i.e. easily bought and sold for cheaps

5. Future of Singapore Takeaways

– Political Maturity – undermined (vote denied), hindered (voiced-out), regressed (forced-acceptance)
– Democratic Principles – downplayed (not-ready excuse), worsened (power-dominance strengthened), brutalised (people’s rights-trampled)
– Multi-Racial Society – cosmetic (tokenism over real change), conflicting (racism politicised), compromised (racist policies unchallenged)
– Overall Feeling – shortchanged (Singaporeans choice denied), cheapened (Malay community’s integrity), sold-out (leadership of yes-man)

May we draw some wisdom for the sake of our country’s future.


Source: Damanhuri Bin Abas

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