I joined a Group on Facebook called ‘Suara Melayu Singapura’ and had been reading the chain of comments from its members. Almost 95% of the comments made were anti establishment and particularly directed to the PAP. The negative comments could not have been conceived and expressed in writing five years ago but rightly or wrongly, they represent the ground feeling of Malays towards the PAP today – and it is not sweet at all.
PAP has about 2.5 years to call for the next general election and unfortunately the recent National Day Rally by the Prime Minister had not translated to the expected positive reaction by the Malays. On the contrary, the recent survey done by Suria/Warna (the Malay Mediacorp TV and Radio channels in Singapore) showed that 74% of Malays did not believe that the Government’s new policies would be adequate to prepare Singaporeans for the future. 57.6% of the Malays surveyed did not have the confidence that the future generation would have better and bright future.
It’s deja vu of the early 1980′s when the Malays showed their unhappiness towards PAP and took it to the ballot box. After the general election in 1984, PAP government made earnest effort to win the Malay votes by focusing on resolving their social issues and ramping up the assistance to Mendaki and AMP. After the 1984 election, Goh Chok Tong was slated to take over as Prime Minister and he was tasked to win the Malay votes back again. It was one of his political tests before assuming the post of 2nd Prime Minister of Singapore. In my opinion, he did an excellent job of winning back the Malays.
Ironically history seems to be repeating itself today. While it is nebulous as to who will be the next Prime Minister to succeed PM Lee Hsien Loong, neither one of the two Deputy Prime Ministers has been assigned to look into the Malay affairs. The responsibility seems to be rested on Yaacob’s shoulder (Minister in-charge of Malay & Muslim Affairs) and, in my opinion, it will be an uphill task unless a more concerted effort is carried out by the whole Government’s machinery. 2.5 years is not a long time away and something need to done soon.
Umar Abdul Hamid
* The writer is a former PAP MP.