In a Today report dated 29 September, it is reported that the nation’s founding fathers believed passionately in the vision of a multiracial society, and they also wanted to make sure that Singapore would not be viewed by its neighbours as a “Third China”.
At the People’s Association Kopitalk on Saturday (23 September), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated that it was the reason why the founding fathers — Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Goh Keng Swee, Mr S Rajaratnam, Mr Othman Wok — made multiracialism the fundamental principle on which Singapore was founded, and enshrined it in the Constitution
PM Lee said that his father who was Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, summed up what multi-racialism was all about when he said in 1965 — the year Singapore gained independence — that the Republic is “not a Malay nation, not a Chinese nation, not an Indian nation. Everybody will have a place in Singapore”.
PM Lee stressed that the message was meant not only to reassure the minorities, but also to remind the Chinese majority in Singapore never to oppress the non-Chinese, “because they themselves had felt squatted upon when Singapore was in Malaysia”.
However, he stated that Malaysia was different, saying, “The Umno leaders in Kuala Lumpur — the central government — wanted one dominant race, i.e. Malay Malaysians, to enjoy special rights, while the Chinese, Indians and other citizens would forever be in a subordinate position. We fought that, and disagreed with them. Eventually, we separated from them because it could not be settled.”
PM Lee then said that in the 1960s, Singapore — a Chinese-majority country, in a Malay-majority part of Southeast Asia — was seen “as a Chinese country, a proxy, a stooge for communist China, and not an independent player”.
He then said that if Singapore had been identified as a Chinese country, it would have caused problems with the neighbours.
“We would not have been able to live peacefully in South-east Asia. So, we had to make quite sure that people understood that we were an independent, multiracial country,” he stressed.
Many netizens stated that all the PM is saying is to justify the actions of the People’s Action Party government.
Philip Lim wrote, “Do not insult the founding fathers. The fact is you are nowhere even near them. They united the nation with their multi-racial equality policies. But you only divided the nation with your selfish racist act.”
Joe Ng wrote, “I am very sure, majority of us do not oppress any other Singaporean. It is the government that made it sound like we are to justify what they want to do.”
XiangRen Tan wrote, “LKY never did said he was a Chinese in any of his interviews. Even when foreign media interviewed him on his views about China as a Chinese, LKY always emphasised that he is a Singaporean! Our founding fathers passion about multi racism is depicted in every single of their actions from the pledge to the national anthem to how they set the rules of our Presidential Elections! They have never said that we can use race and wealth as the qualifying criteria as the President of Singapore. I cannot agree with using race and how rich a person is to judge the character and willingness of a leader to serve as our head of state!!! Please wake up, else you have no right to educate or talk to us about race and religion! This is because if your leadership doesn’t even walk the talk, I just have to agree to disagree! This is about values, ethics and principles, if I cannot even uphold this basic values of a Singaporean, I am not fit to be called a Singaporean! This is your life and my life! I cannot allow such things to happen and I do not know how do we answer to the future generations on the actions and choices that we make now. If we do not wake up now, we will never be able to Majulah Singapura!!!”
Jayden Sagittarius wrote, “And the opposition gets oppressed when they have different opinion with yours. Don’t they feel squatted?”
Annie Pang wrote, “Do not emphasis minority or majority. We are Singaporeans. Only you divide us and make it racist. How about the super-minority Eurasian? Do not keep on mentioning about race and religion. We are all one people one nation in this tiny island.”
Joseph Fu wrote, “When it comes to addressing national issue, quote LKY’S words. When LKY wishes to demolish OXLEY what happened? The whole Singapore became more divided due to a walkover Presidential Elections. Would it actually turn out better to have an election in the first place regardless whether the 2 other contestant qualified. It’s time to reflect and see why is it that there are more negative comments here in a mainstream FB page. This is not some Tabloid SBS or statestimereview page here.”
Paul De Chen wrote, “PM Lee, is that the real reason why the reserved seat for Malay in this PE? Or are you afraid of Dr Tan C B being elected as President of Singapore? Are you sure only ” Some of Singaporean” unhappy about this? Your definition of “some” is how many percentage of Singaporeans? 5 percent? 50 percent? 1 percent?”
Kenny Ong wrote, “PE is not an issue if there is no TCB. PE is not an issue if we get to vote. Multiracialism is never a question if without your selfish act. Is all about you, not Singaporean.”
Ferlone Chao wrote, “Stop treating Singaporeans like idiots. People are not blind. Do not use respected founding fathers as a shield for what you had done. You had rendered the Pledge we recite for years as a farce.”
Dave Tan wrote, “It seems to me that it is the Government who is oppressing the minority, especially the Malay from holding key appointment especially in the Army. Do Singapore ever has a Malay army chief or Minister of defence?”
Nicky Weiwei wrote, “For 52 years since Singapore independence this was the first time i hear from someone’s mouth(yours) that there’s a real risk that non Chinese in Singapore will be oppressed! You mean the various enacted Laws such as sedition act, penal code, ISA etc are not well equipped to handle? What’s with the daily scenes of various race living in harmony as seen with everyone’s eyes in hdb, coffeeshops, shopping malls, buses mrts, etc?”
Zachary Kho wrote, “Yes, we are not another China, that is why the government aspires for Singapore to be like China in becoming a “cashless society”.
Sarcasm aside, isn’t it interesting that the justification for the reserved PE laid in a simple but questionable survey questioning if Singaporeans were likely to vote along racial lines. Equally ironic is that Singapore is now choosing to carry on the Federation’s legacy of affirmative action.”
Calvin Othniel wrote, “Wait. We are Singaporeans right? Why is there a race involved? Unless you do not consider them Singaporeans or look upon what you have advocated – meritocracy? By dividing them into race, you are saying that some can make it while others cannot so therefore needed help?”
Wee Chon Kiat wrote, “I doubt LKY will come up with something like the reserved PE. If you are capable and willing, you do it. Be it Chinese, Malay or Indian. If the PAP is really that sincere about getting a Malay to be President, the smart thing is not to get someone from PAP and worse, changing the race of that person. Probably that will show that PAP is an impartial party. Now whatever excuses you are coming up with will only backfire.”
NC Tay wrote, “Stop accusing the Chinese of being racist just to push your agenda! I’m all for a minority PM now as Long as he’s capable. Mr Tharman is much more capable than you, why don’t you step aside and let him be the PM. Are you oppressing the minorities?”
Lim Wei Jie wrote, “I think you have a wrong interpretation of what your father had said. And would you stop making references to LKY in your every other speech? Stand on your own, please.”
Chew JC wrote, “Nobody is against minority representation. That is why we have GRC system. We are against non democratic dictatorship disguised as democracy.”
Ben Oh wrote, “No President was elected this year but selected. Do not keep beating around the bush and use your father as excuse. You are nowhere compared to him except that you are good in mathematics.”
Cj Leo wrote, “We sacrifice so much to help the government to make Singapore a tolerant multi racial, religious and cultural society. You as PM has undone a lot of our achievements in this area by playing on the race card to camouflage your real intention in changing the criteria for EP. Your real intention was to prevent Dr Tan Cheng Bok from becoming the President. Simple as that.”
Johanes Pkmi wrote, “I suspect our founding father LKY actually against this idea as he should favor meritocracy above all.”
Mohamed Ali wrote, “When Kenneth use his dad’s JBJ name during the last election, you said stop using his dad name. Now you always use your laupeh name can ah.”
Mcgyver Loh wrote, “Reserved PE is not the real issue. Question is why walkover just like that when we have another 2 good candidates from minority race to contest. We want a fair chance to cast our votes and contest even though it is a reserved PE.”
Sway Choon Lim wrote, “I am concern , what if we have a minority PM and he have a different agenda. I am glad that the Singaporean Chinese will always protect the minority.”
Michael Ng wrote, “A shameless LHL has lost the moral authority to govern. Too late to give any excuses. You chose to quarrel with the people who mandated you. Are you an animal?”
Sicko Fako wrote, “LKY said, LKY ways,LKY mentality. LHL no ideas?”
Tong Bn wrote, “We live in harmony for past 52 years and now he says we got it wrong?
He knew better than the citizens of the past 52 years?”
Lilian Lum wrote, “I don’t see Malay, Chinese, Indians or Eurasian in Singapore. Only Singaporeans. So please do not divide us.”
Rajan Rajamanickam wrote, “He has got nothing of his own except to quote his father.”
Yeo Yang wrote, “Always quote your father, but why didn’t listen to him when he says to demolish the house?”
Daniel Png wrote, “Is the PM trying to brush away everything that our forefathers have striven for to achieve today’s racial harmony.”