by Ismail Kassim

To the PAPpie Malays, I like to assure them that I too believe we, the Malays, should be accommodative to the People’s Action Party (PAP).

I also agree that we should be appreciative of the slow but steady progress that our little red dot has made towards true multi-racialism and equality for all citizens.

Over the last 52 years, the ruling party has steadily dismantled the invisible structures that Lee Kuan Yew and his lieutenants had erected to limit our participation in areas deemed as ‘’sensitive,’’ which at one period, even extended to the Foreign Service.

What I disagree with the PAPpies is over what we, as individuals and in groups, should do to speed up the process so that the aspirations contained in our National Pledge, will become a reality, not only in name but also in practice.

Should we continue to demonstrate our remarkable patience quietly, and wait with arms outstretched, accepting with forbearance, whatever is doled out to us, at the total discretion of the ruling party?

And should we also stop talking about past discriminations, practise the ‘’see no evil, hear no evil, talk no evil,’’ approach in the belief that it will further soften the hearts of our leaders and make them drop their ambivalent attitude towards the community.

I think we, as a community, must retain some semblance of our pride, honour and integrity, to call a spade a spade, and not to rewrite history, dismissing ‘’complaints of discrimination’’ as just perceptions, just to make our top leaders and the PAPpie Malays feel good.

We must do what we think is right. We owe it to our next generation and to posterity to be truthful, and to be prepared to pay the price just for speaking the truth, without any embellishments.

Of course, we should act with circumspection, and not do anything rash, to undermine the racial harmony and national unity that have been painstakingly achieved over the years.

I believe we should strike a balance. That means we should keep raising issues that make us unhappy as a community and reminding our leaders whenever transgressions occur as a result of their attitudes and policies.

Now is the time for us to stand up and speak up in no uncertain terms. Now, the community is at a crossroads over an unsolicited gift – the EP Reserved for Malays race.

Is this a Trojan horse kind of gift? Is it really free or are there conditions attached?

What do we have to pay later on, what concessions will be extracted from us, just for the privilege of having a helpless PAPpie Malay, whose first loyalty will always be to the Party and not to the People, presiding over the Istana.

This is no time for displays of personal or communal sentiments or friendship. We have to push aside our personal feelings as the occasion demands that we stand on the basis of principles.

We have to think ahead, to the long term implications, rather than to short term symbolic joys.

Already, the proposed Malays only EP election slated for September has caused divisions among Malays and created resentments from a significant proportion of the people towards our community, particularly towards those rejoicing over the poison-laced gift.

This is the greatest setback to multiracialism since independence and a blow against meritocracy and the concept of having the best man for the job, to be freely chosen by the electorate.

I wonder what carrot and what stick and in what proportion have been used to snare two respectable and successful businessmen from our community to want to throw their hat into a contest from which they know they cannot win.

By taking part in this pretence of a democratic election, they and their supporters will inflict an injustice to the nation and to the people.

It takes a lifetime to build up a sterling reputation, but it takes just one error of judgement to turn all to ashes.

I think history will judge this controversial EP race harshly; in time it will be regarded as the greatest PAP blunder over the last 58 years – even worse than the bungling over Oxleygate.

This post was first published at Mr Ismail Kassim’s Facebook page and republished with permission. He is a retired senior political correspondent from Straits Times. 

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