By Osman Sulaiman
If the People’s Action Party (PAP) thinks that a Malay president is important periodically, and has always been confident of its party’s credibility and branding, then it should support a Malay candidate to contest in the coming presidential election as how it supported Tony Tan in the last election.
Often times, the ones who made the Malays feel that they are of sub-par quality is the PAP itself. Creating Group Representative Constituency (GRCs) and justifying it that without GRCs, a Malay candidate cannot stand on its own worthiness.
GRCs were introduced in 1988. It was the last election that a Malay candidate stands in an SMC under the PAP banner. Mr Abdullah Tarmugi contested in Siglap SMC and garnered 73.7% of the popular votes. One of the highest achievers among the slates of candidates being fielded by PAP. It definitely showed no signs that a non-Chinese candidate cannot stand on its own merits.
After the 1988 general election, no other PAP Malay candidates contested in an SMC. Between then and now, the PAP continues with its narrative that a Malay candidate cannot win an election in a Chinese majority electorate.
I remembered when Mr Masagos Zulkifli Bin Masagos Mohamad, the current Minister for the Environment and Water Resources was promoted to a ministerial position, the PAP highlighted that the promotion reflected the progress of the Malays. It simply meant that the promotion was given on account that the community now deserves to have a minister while previously it didn’t as we are considered second best as compared to the non-Malays.
Today, the PAP again uses the Malay community as a pawn for its political agenda. Knowing how close the results of the last presidential election between its endorsed candidate and the independent candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock (TCB), the PAP is playing the racial cards again by tugging at the heart strings of the Malay community.
It seems that it now wants a Malay figurehead to counter the possibility of Dr TCB winning the presidential election. And rules have to be tweaked to accommodate this.
I will be elated if ever we were to have a Malay president again after Yusof Ishak. But there will be no honour in winning a contest when the favours are heavily tilted for a certain individual/race to win it. And when indeed a Malay president is elected under those conditions, then it will further affirm the unfounded theory that the Malay community cannot stand on its own calibre.
I would rather we secure the presidential role fair and square. The PAP will need to walk the talk rather than just paying lip service. If it values the contribution of the Malay community and treats everyone as equal, show it by fielding a Malay candidate without tinkering with the system. The Malay community doesn’t need charity of this kind.
The principle that all citizens are equal, regardless of race or religion, means we have to do away with affirmative actions.