by Joseph Nathan
It is ironic that while Singaporeans continue to recite our National Pledge as “one united people, regardless of race, language or religion” on one hand, why then are we still having so many “race-based” Self-Help Groups and policies that are restricting our effort toward being “One United People”?
We have race-based Self-Help Group for Chinese, Indian, Eurasian, and Malay, but not for others, as if these Singaporeans do not matter.
Every month, every working Singaporeans are expected to contribute a portion of their salary to support these groups, thus making this a national public policy.
Helping or restricting Malay Muslim?
For the Malays and Muslims, their contributions also go towards the building of mosques and religious education.
But why are Malay or Muslim Singaporeans treated so differently from the rest?
Beside a Malay President, they even have a special minister to be in charge to look after Muslim Affairs.
Questions are, will all these “helps” ended up hurting their individual self-worth, undermining their potentials, and creating “self-defeating” tendencies that might weaken them culturally and religiously?
Ambiguous & conflicting statements
Yet, the current government continues to advocate for Singapore to unite as “one people” so that “together”, we can aspire and build our Singaporean identity and a “stronger” future as a nation.
Isn’t the continued support of these race-based groups, privileges, and policies in conflict with our collective aspiration as a nation?
Are we to be politically correct by ignoring these systemic realities and pretend that all is well?
Uniquely confusing Singapore
Imagine a Chinese or Indian Muslim beneficiary that is in need of help.
Should the Chinese Muslim goes to CDAC or MENDAKI, or MUIS for help?
Should the Indian Muslim goes to SINDA or MENDAKI, or MUIS for help?
I have first hand experience in learning from Indian Muslims that while MUIS has no problem receiving their monthly contributions, they will redirect Indian Muslim to either SINDA or Indian Muslim charities such as United Indian Muslim Association (UIMA) for assistance.
But charities like UIMA did not receive any part of their monthly contributions and yet is expected to resolve the predicaments of the Indian Muslim community.
This begets the question – if MUIS or MENDAKI has no issue collecting the monthly contributions from Indian, Chinese, or other non-Malay Muslims, should they not be equally responsible for resolving the predicaments of these donors?
Are these groups & charities ready for an expected increase for help?
As more Singaporeans become homeless, unemployed, bankrupted, in debts or driven to despair by the endless situational hardships Singapore is facing, what can they expect out of these groups to help them in their predicaments?
The irony is that, despite these groups and many other related charities and programmes, why are there still so many homeless and hardship cases in Singapore?
If these groups and charities are only interested in fund-raising but not actively addressing the pressing needs of fellow Singaporeans or raising their concerns to the government, then we should be encouraging direct donation to those who are more active and start shutting down those that are inactive, irrelevant, or dormant.
It is sad to be witnessing so many kind-hearted Singaporeans who are actively using their time and resources to help fellow Singaporeans who are in need.
If so, shouldn’t we be supporting and funding them directly?
Got money, but no action
Trouble is, many of these inactive or dormant charities are flushed with donations that are rotting away in banks while their supposedly beneficiaries are suffering needlessly.
Isn’t it time for our government to rethink about a major overhaul of these redundant race-based groups and charities so that the money and assets donated can be put to better use?
Singapore needs to be active & decisive in caring for fellow Singaporeans
But if Singapore is indeed seeking a progressive policy to reinforced a more cohesive society, isn’t it time that our government integrate these groups into a single group to optimize the use of resources and donations?
Given the huge amount of fund and asset entrusted to them, why not consider the option in appointing professional Fund Managers to manage these funds and assets more effectively?
If structured as a form of Public Endowment Plan, it can even be used to supplement the Retirement Plan for those in need of help to reverse the rich-poor gap, regardless of race, language, or religion.
I do not know the total amount of money and assets that are currently entrusted to MUIS but if these are consolidated and structured to help the community, l will not be surprised should the poverty that is plaguing the Malay or Muslim community be eradicate within a generation.
Since we have the offices of a dedicated Malay President and a dedicated minister in charge of their affairs, shouldn’t they look into this suggestion and see how they can use this option to eradicate poverty in their community?
Point is, as the pandemic rages, aggravated by some poor decisions make by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce, many more Singaporeans will be driven to despair as their saving dry up, with debts, mortgages, and bills pilling up, while business owners find themselves drowning in the red.
As more bankruptcies are to be expected, can any patriotic Singaporean sits back and watch as Singapore becoming a nation of bankrupts, unemployed and helpless souls?
Truth is, Singapore can truly and effectively eradicate poverty across all races and be a truly “First World” economy within a generation if we can find good leaders to govern our country and put all those “hidden” resources to work for us.
If executed effectively, Singaporeans can even have a better standard of living than the Swiss – a promise that the PAP government has failed to deliver.
This is still a possibility, provided we act more decisively and support good leaders, regardless of the political divide as leadership is also one of our many “hidden” resources.
Question is, do we still believe that Singaporeans deserve better…
This was first published on Joseph Nathan’s Facebook page, and reproduced with permission.