Why support for Malays must stay

Why support for Malays must stay

It is important that society and the Government continue to give extra support to the Malay community, and pressure from other communities for equal privileges should be resisted, said Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.

In an interview with Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian, published on Saturday, he expressed his "strong view" that the long-standing approach of giving special treatment to Malays must carry on.

It is the Singaporean community's duty to work towards the ideal of Malay/Muslims having good achievements, he said.

"And for that, the Malay community needs to be helped more."

The minister also pointed to Article 152 of the Constitution, which states that the Government must recognise the special position of the Malays, who are the indigenous people of Singapore, and safeguard their political, economic and educational interests.

When Singapore became independent, founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew made a "conscious decision" to keep this clause, noted Mr Shanmugam, and this was a good thing.

Mr Shanmugam was elaborating on a speech he had made last month at the scholarship ceremony of the Prophet Muhammad's Birthday Memorial Scholarship Fund Board.

Then, he said that "the Government has a laser-like focus to help the Malay community" and that other races have accepted this.

In the BH interview, he said questions have since been asked about what privileges Malays enjoy. He listed several examples of how the community gets assistance, and said this special support comes not just financially but also through structural ways - through policies and programmes in accordance with the law.

Since the 1970s, land for mosques has been allotted without tender and the land price set at affordable rates, to ensure Muslims have modern mosques as Singapore develops.

The Government also helps Malay tertiary students financially, and the community has its own special courts - syariah courts, whose infrastructure and judges are Government-funded.

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