Malaysia summons Singapore ambassador to protest Goh's remarks
January 26, 2001
Singapore fires another shot in meritocracy row
Singapore rejects selfish image, sees itself as an equal
MALAYSIA summoned Singapore's high commissioner Jan 26 to protest against claims by Singaporean premier Goh Chok Tong that ethnic Malays do better in his neighbouring republic than in Malaysia.
Syed Hamid Albar, foreign minister said K. Kesavapany was summoned by the ministry to clarify (Goh's remarks) and at the same time Kuala Lumpur would press her views over the matter.
Goh's statement had hurt the feelings and sensitivity of the Malays in the country and Malaysia regarded it as meddling in its internal affairs, he said.
"In fact, the statement itself is full of innuendos questioning the effectiveness of the Malaysian government to uplift the well-being of its people.
"This is tantamount to interference in the domestic affairs of the country," he added. "We regret the statement," Syed Hamid was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.
In a speech Jan 21, Goh had praised the achievements of Malays in majority-Chinese Singapore and hit back at overseas claims the community had been marginalised.
Goh said that as of last year 25 percent of Singapore's Malay workforce had upper secondary or higher qualifications compared to 14 percent in Malaysia in 1998.
Goh acknowledged that Malaysia's Malays had proportionately more doctors, lawyers, millionaires and people holding top jobs in the public and private sector.
"But overall, our Singapore Malays fare well when compared with the Malaysian Malays," he said.
Malaysia's ethnic Malays, which make up two thirds of the country's population, have special constitutional rights and enjoy an affirmative action programme to narrow the wealth gap with the minority Chinese.
"Issues such as this we regard as not helping to create a cordial and amicable situation among the two countries which are very close neighbours," Syed Hamid told reporters. Relations have been prickly since Singapore split from Malaysia in 1965 to become an independent state but both sides in recent months have tried to improve ties.
Chinese make up 77 percent of Singapore's population, compared to 14 percent Malays. Bumiputeras make up about 63 percent of Malaysia's population and Chinese about 25 percent.