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Friday, September 29, 2006

Singapore-Malaysia tiff. Pot calling the kettle black!

Harry Lee Kuan Yew is no stranger to controversy and he is famous for his 'stick it to you' kind of politics!

This is my view of what made Harry Lee Kuan Yew a giant in his own right and why even to this day, whatever he says skews very deeply into the hearts and minds of our present day Malaysian politicians who refuse to admit that it is as he says that the Malaysian Chinese are marginalised in a subtle way in the running of the affairs of this country just as the Singaporean Malays are kept under leash in his tiny island state of Singapura!

Thus, my titling of this post as 'Singapore-Malaysia tiff . Pot calling the kettle black!'

For a man who has successfully turned Singapura from a backward small island republic with no natural resources into one of the world's economical powerhouse, Mentor Minister Harry Lee Kuan Yew is one great example of a politician who walks his talk!

He has successfully engineered the transformation of an island with a population mix that is the same as in Malaysia to being several notches higher than the Kingdom of Malaysia to which Singapore had attached itself as a member state after Malaysia was formed following the Independence of the Federated States of Malaya and British Borneo.

Lee Kuan Yew is a product of the old school of the British Colonials 'take no prisoners' system.

He rose to prominence as a politician who was passionate about bringing development and progress to the tiny island republic which doesn't even show up on the global map but it's significance is so great that in times of before , no one spoke about Malaya or Kuala Lumpur but Singapore stood out glaringly as an important outpost of the British!

This photo shows Lee Kuan Yew being carried by his supporters!

The only resources Singapore had back then was it's dynamic political leadership under it's robust, no nonsense Prime Minister Harry Lee Kuan Yew, a lawyer who talked tough and was tough on those who didn't buck up in delivering the kind of service expected of them!

In seeing to his plans to develop Singapore into the modern metropolis it is today, Lee Kuan Yew spared no quarters and didn't back away from issuing controversial orders and directives!

If it was a Chinese temple standing in the way of a proposed highway or road to be built, he ordered the temple to be relocated or face destruction! Many temples saw relocation as a result of his firm stand against anything inhibiting progress. Same thing happened to many mosques and Hindu temples. He rebuilt all those religious buildings to a standard all can be proud of!

In a way, his firm governance and administrative vigor saw Singapore slowly but surely transform and morph into one of Asia's most progressive, most vibrant economies and most sought after place to do business and to live.

Being a Chinese himself, naturally Harry Lee Kuan Yew was viewed as a danger to the Malays of Malaysia for his asking for meritocracy to be applied as a general yardstick to all Malaysians and I believe he wanted the advantages of being a 'Bumiputra' to be removed from the Malays and demanded from Tunku Abdul Rahman as such.

Naturally, the Malays wouldn't budge and the first Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra refused to accede to Kuan Yew's demands. Singapore was thus asked to leave Malaysia and return to being on it's own.

Harry Lee Kuan Yew cried tears of despair when told to go away, don't come round here no more by Malaysia's Prime Minister , the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra!

His resolve strengthened by his 'never say die' spirit saw Lee Kuan Yew rallying his people, his republic's citizens to work harder, kow tow to his rules and regulations. He paid his civil servants well.

The salaries of the armed forces and the police force were raised adequately and housing was provided to them, successfully eliminating the need to take bribes and to stamp out corruption.

Tough anti-litter laws and severe fines were imposed on those who littered or polluted the island. As a result, Singaporeans soon cultivated a self regulatory behaviour in keeping clean and dared not chuck that cigarette butt or sweet wrapper nonchalantly as people do over here in Malaysia!

You don't have to go far in seeing this for yourselves! Just take a walk down the Malaysia-Singapore Causeway at the Straits of Johore. See which part is spick and span? I can guarantee you that their part of the Causeway will be free of any rubbish and not a crumpled tissue or a cigarette butt will be there but over on our part of the Causeway, you might even come across an empty can of Coke, all manners of cigarette butts slowly disintegrating away into the tarred roads, etc.

Why is this so? Simple! You pay peanuts ; you get monkeys! You make laws by the dozen in our ever hectic and full of 'rhetoric' Parliament but there's no firm and proper implementation of the laws by those who are employed and appointed to administer them!

A reasonable cause could be the inadequate salaries our uniformed personnel are being paid thus opening up the doors of 'bribery and corruption' to sink it's fangs onto the selfs of lowly paid government servants who face a whole infestation of 'red tape' and official bureaucracy in our various government departments and agencies!

People can say 'Aiya! Singapore is just one small booger of a country! You can act lah! Try administering a country as large as Malaysia! Then, you'll's not easy , bla bla bla and all the usual excuses will spew up and hit us in our face!'

I just envision a scenario. Letting Lee Kuan Yew's system be imposed and implemented here in our glorious country. Try it out for a whole year! Transfer in Singapore's style of management and administration into our Government of Malaysia without 'touching' on the exclusive rights of the Malays.

Try putting to practice all the laws and regulations of Lee Kuan Yew's Government of the Republic of Singapore and see what happens? Stick to each and every one of it's deterrent laws and strict implementation of its rules! Pay the government and civil servants as they ought to be and see what's the results.

I dare say that it will be a great day for our nation when a traffic policeman or woman here can proudly refuse that RM100 or RM50 that is placed together with the offending motorist's driving licence and snap the handcuffs onto the wrists of those who are so eager to pay to get away with their numerous offenses and traffic violations that take place each and everyday in this great nation!

I praise the day when our Immigration, our Customs, our Local Authority's Enforcement officers can without a slight doubt or second thought refuse to accept money for just doing their duty when facing criminals and wrong doers in the line of their duties!

Anyway, back to the reality. Singapore has also it's dark secrets that needs to be exposed. I lived in the republic for 6 years from 1980 to 1986. I saw with my own eyes that the Malays in Singapore faced the very same marginalisation that Harry Lee Kuan Yew accuses the Malaysian Government of doing to our Chinese population.

Singaporean Malays face the 'glass ceiling' when it comes to trying to climb up into the higher echelons of political and administrative positions in the republic's governmental seats.

Most Singaporean Malays are lower and middle income earners who struggle to make their ends meet. The highest position I recall a Singaporean Malay holding power in Singapore was Ahmad Mattar, Minister of the Environment.

That was what I saw. I don't know if the situation has changed for the Singaporean Malays since I returned to Malaysia in 1986 but from my own experiences living 6 years over there, not many chances were opened up to the Singaporean Malays.

I heard that in the Singaporean Armed Forces, there exists a 'glass ceiling' stopping the Singaporean Malays from being appointed as the top officers of it's army. The most any Singaporean Malay can ever go up to is the position of a Lieutenant or something.

Can any Singaporeans reading this clarify to me as to what the exact situation is over there? I would be very much obliged, thank you.

No need to get offended, mind you. We are just clarifying that whether it is Malaysia or Singapore we are talking about, our future and our destiny is as entwined together and connected for life as the Johor-Singapore water pipes!

You pinch us , we feel the pain. If we pinch you, you'll suffer just the same. In our joint destinies, there is nothing much to be gained by giving each other, unnecessary pain!

That is if the political pundits both sides of the Causeway choose commonsense and remain sane!
The main reality all of us need to face and accept is that no matter what, each and everyone of us can't expect things to change for the better , if we choose to remain where we are and not do something better and different to change our lifestyles and economic futures!

The Chinese are the same the world over. They are industrious. They work hard, play smart and are a boon to any nation on Earth for their tenacity and their going all out to make hay while the sun shines!

The Malay is by nature very accommodating. Used to letting others enjoy it first before they take their share. It is a well known trait that the Malays are a gentle people who will however run amok if their honor and dignity are trampled by those who go over the limits when dealing with them.

'Hak Ketuanan Melayu' is all they live for and they are very passionate about just that. Malay Rights and Islam. Two main things that the Malays if provoked at will spare no quarter to defend with their lifes if they must! For all the social rot that the majority of the Malays have and are sinking into, these core issues will always be defended by them no matter what!

The irony is that , except for those 'Malay Reserves' and strictly @ 'on paper' , the so called Malay lands and pride have been sold off to the others by many Malays who only care for today's worldly pleasures and enjoyment for a pittance whilst the Malaysian Chinese whom Harry Lee Kuan Yew says are being 'marginalised' by the Malays here are the actual real, no joke, no BS Taukeh's of Malaysia! See who are the richest amongst us and you'll know!

They are there right atop the economic pile of this land unlike any other in South East Asia. Lee Kuan Yew made that statement just to rock the docile Malays of Malaysia to wake up and improve themselves and their nation.

If Lee Kuan Yew had kept quiet and minded his own business, our Malaysian leaders today will still be lulled into the 'la la land' thinking that all's well and good in our strive to be the best this part of the world! Seems that we do need the old warriors to keep us uptodate and alert!

The reality is that the Government of Malaysia has been and is still wasting away so much precious resources and funds like sending it's 'astronauts' into space do what? toss a 'roti canai ' in space and see what it can do?..and so many other things which I don't have the heart to speak out's too sickening!

Well, I have said my piece about this brouhaha brought about by our man down south, Mentor Minister Harry Lee Kuan Yew who has developed his island republic so very well but also not exactly a holy moly saint himself in being fair to the Malays down there.

Lee Kuan Yew did good for Singapore as Mahathir has done for Malaysia. To both these gentlemen, both Singapore and Malaysia are very much indebted to.

Sure, both are known to be tough guys and not softies when it comes to implementing their 'iron fist' policies but see where their policies has taken both their nations to!

Today, Malaysia and Singapore are both very much different from the post colonial outposts they both were and in general, we are all so much better off compared to our parents and forefathers who struggled to earn a living.

We all still have to work and struggle to survive in our own ways but still, we should accept that Malaysia and Singapore are considered as 'Bumi Bertuah' by those around us and to this second, many out there put their own lifes in peril and try their best to make it to our shores to earn their living legally or otherwise!

Let's all cherish that instead of throwing insults and curses at each other! It's Ramadhan folks.

The holiest month in the year for us Muslims and I am sure that the non Muslims here and down there in Singapore do feel the peaceful atmosphere prevailing throughout this month and can appreciate to join us all in celebrating it's blessed moments.

Ramadhan Bazaar's everywhere add to the festive cheer and titillate tastebuds no matter that they be Malays, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs, Orang Asli's, Caucasians, or whatever. Appreciate the peace we have amongst us and do not go into the same old hellhole called Envy! It will destroy all that we have today with us.

Selamat Berpuasa to all Muslims who read this and Peace be to the rest! Have a nice day all!


The Malaysian. said...

A very well written and balanced analysis. I hope those reading it will do so in its entirety before commenting.

Juin said...


i would have agreed totally with your essay have you not mention the following

'The irony is that , except for those 'Malay Reserves' and strictly @ 'on paper' , the so called Malay lands and pride have been sold off to the others by many Malays who only care for today's worldly pleasures and enjoyment for a pittance whilst the Malaysian Chinese whom Harry Lee Kuan Yew says are being 'marginalised' by the Malays here are the actual real, no joke, no BS Taukeh's of Malaysia! See who are the richest amongst us and you'll know!

in your example above you have failed to analyse the difference between the general chinese public being marginalised and the fact that a few chinese got super rich because of corruption. Sure you have the middle class who are well to do but they got to where they are, in spite, of the policy of the present government. So what of the poor chinese? and believe me there are quite a few of them around!
just my 2 cents

Anyway i do enjoy reading your posts.

mahaguru58 said...

Blogger juin,

You are right! I do acknowledge that there are the hardcore poor amongst the Chinese here in Malaysia who seriously need help from the powers that be!

I come across such poor people almost on a daily basis here in Cheras.

Dato Tan Chai Ho, the Member of Parliament of the Cheras Parliamentary Constituency must do more for the poor Chinese folks living in the area.

I see an old Chinese man who collects disposed cardboard boxes and piles them up in bundles and walks with one bundle in each hand every morning around Taman Tenaga and goes to sell them to the Recycling Centre to earn a few ringgits to earn his upkeep!

I see old Chinese people who show signs of hardship, living in longhouses and reflect the kind of lifestyle that shows them being neglected by the powers that be.

I concur with you that there are many poor Malaysian Chinese who are the very ones whom we are talking about.

The same goes for every ethnicity that exists in our country.

There are poor Malaysians from every kind of background out there.

This country needs a government that will show kindness to all , all year round and without favoring just one ethnicity.

We are all Malaysians. We feel the same pain, the same hunger and suffer just the same.

The Malaysian Government needs to walk the talk and not just pretend to care through it's 'once in a blue moon' loving,caring, campaign which is ridiculously held very frequently especially when it nears the General Elections time!

As about the poor folks you mentioned,I take this opportunity to apologise for my oversight.

Poor Malaysians come in all shapes and sizes plus races!

khairil said...

hi, i enjoyed reading your posts. You wanted a singaporean to 'clarify to me as to what the exact situation is over there'. well, u got me :). I'm a struggling young singaporean who's trying very hard to make his mark and one who happens to be malay. 20 years sinced you left Singapore, the Republic has seen much change in its economic and social we push forward and work hard to prove infrastructure. I will not try to explain what happened back then as i was too young. You are right about the one Minister and he still helms the environment portfolio. In the military we see more Officers and we have 2 pilots(1 Lt & 1 Maj) and 1 commando(unconfirmed. We also have a few Colonels (abt 5-8). We're not expecting any Generals. The vibes that i'm getting today is that the govt wants the malay community to change certain social mindsets. As the Republic rides the wave of globalisation it makes sense that every citizen plays his part and contributes on top of protecting our unique culture and identity. Our Malay leaders has been campaigning actively on numerous issues such as education upgrading and tackle social menace loudly such as drugs abuse and unwanted pregnancy. Subtle racism do exists. Malays are seen as lower classed citizens and often compared to foreign labourers: 'can work but cannot think'. Even permanant residents feel more assimilated than local malays are. Somehow, i do not blame the chinese to think of us this way. Their criticisms are founded on the basis of our own designs. We lack confidence, competitiveness and a desire to succeed. But if we want to stay relevant we need to adapt to the current climate. Malay busineses are establising themselves and growing exponentially. We are getting a new Islamic Hub in Braddel, our madrasahs are mordernised, Islamic institutions are technology enabled, Malay arts scene is vibrant and creative. All this the govt supports. The community can do more if it can change perspectives.

mahaguru58 said...

Assalamualaikum Brother Khairil.

Thanks for responding to my request for a Singaporean to update me as to the situation down there.

To get a 'Melayu Singapura' answering me is sort of like an added bonus!

I acknowledge that the Singaporean Malays are marginalised by the Government of Singapore just as the Malaysian Chinese are over here by our BN run Malaysian Government.

We do need to zoom out from the whole faultfinding scenario we see taking place at this moment by both countries leaders and its citizens who unfortunately get dragged into this media circus that is the result of the positions our 'heads of government' take in trying to 'out champion' the other!

Realistically, we the individual citizens of both Malaysia and Singapore need to wake up and get out of the mentality that the government owes us in ensuring that we get spoonfed and clothed or housed by them!

We need to fend for ourselves and improve our lots no matter where we are at this moment on God's wide world.

Yes, this two governments nedd to be fair to all but hello, both governments practice racial discrimination in the actual sense but try to fool us all by their 'Majulah Singapura' and 'Malaysia Boleh' rhetorical slogans!

It's just what they do to mislead the masses into believing that all's being done to take care of the citizens of both countries!

The actual truth is that not a nation on Earth practices justice and rule according to what Almighty God has asked them to!

Singaporean Malays need to try their best to improve their lot just as any other people out here in the world need to.

Everyone needs to practice self reliance and go for it but those who are in the position of authority are responsible to take care of all their citizens and not be biased based on the color of the skin or creed.

I wish you and all Singaporean Malays down there a Blessed Ramadhan and Insya Allah a Joyful Aidil Fitri!

I used to live in Chestnut Drive, Bukit Timah with the Boyans.

Later on I moved to Kranji and lived in Jalan Jambatan Lama.

Used to go fishing and collect mussels in the mangrove swamps there.

Hung out with the chaps in Marsiling, Woodlands and Hillside. :P

Gerek!!! Hahahahaha! One expression I heard being used a lot by them!

Wassalamualaikum Khairil! Thanks for your feedback and its an honor to have you as one of my blog readers.

Keep commenting and share more with me about the situation down in Singapura!

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