Yew's remarks on Malays
Published in Straits Times September 30, 1999
RELATED: A question of loyalty: the Malays in Singapore
Malay minster defends Lee
AT A Singapore 21 forum at Tanjong Pagar on Sept 18, a polytechnic student had asked Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew if certain instinctive emotional bonds among the ethnic groups could be overcome so that Singapore could become a nation.
This was Mr Lee's reply: "Yes, I think so, over a long period of time, and selectively. We must not make an error.
"If, for instance, you put in a Malay officer who's very religious and who has family ties in Malaysia in charge of a machine-gun unit, that's a very tricky business.
"We've got to know his background. I'm saying these things because they are real, and if I don't think that, and I think even if today the Prime Minister doesn't think carefully about this, we could have a tragedy.
"So, these are problems which, as poly students, you're colour-blind to, but when you face life in reality, it's a different proposition."
The reply prompted two Malay-Muslim groups to call for a dialogue with Mr Lee.
Taman Bacaan, a grassroots group, said Malay MPs should have a "heart-to-heart" discussion with Mr Lee, and wanted it to be held before a convention that is being organised in December to ensure the community does not get left behind in a knowledge-based economy.
Majlis Pusat, the central council for 38 Malay-Muslim cultural bodies, suggested that Malay-Muslim grassroots leaders and groups take part in the dialogue and "put the issue of Malay-Muslim loyalty to rest, once and for all".
Published in the Straits Times. September 30, 1999