In his Parliamentary address, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pointed out the reason for reserving the 2017 Elected Presidency (EP) for a Malay candidate: To promote a multiracial, equal and harmonious society, gradually enlarging the shared Singaporean identity while celebrating different cultures and faiths.
Singaporeans see through the rhetoric. The real reason for the change in the EP rules is that the PAP wants to ensure that only its candidate will become president. This move comes on the heels of the last Presidential Election where Dr Tony Tan won the vote by less than one percentage point – a result too close for comfort for the PAP.
Changing the election rules barely months before the election is due to be held to benefit the PAP is an outrage.
If Mr Lee is genuinely concerned about promoting a “multiracial, equal and harmonious” Singapore, then he should address the following concerns of the Malay community which are discussed in the SDP's policy A Singapore For All Singaporeans (read the full paper here):
1. End discrimination in the 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Fund madrasahs. 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 government funding of missionary schools. In return, madrasah schools will recruit non-Muslim teachers to teach secular subjects.
5. 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.
This latest episode of changing the EP rules is another demonstration of how bereft the PAP is of ideas to take Singapore forward while ever ready to divide Singaporeans in order to protect its own interests.