Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lee Kuan Yew's remarks deeply offensive to Malays

Source: Singapore Democrats

In the recent interview Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gave to the National Geographic Magazine he revealed his religious affiliation: "Most Chinese here are Buddhists or Taoists...I am one of them." No quarrel with that.

But what has raised eyebrows and caused disquiet, especially among our Malay Muslims, are two statements that Mr Lee that were reckless, outrageous and utterly devoid of any sense.

The first was the insinuation that the Malays are self-centred and selfish. Mr Lee had said, “Well, we make them say the national pledge and sing the national anthem but suppose we have a famine, will your Malay neighbour give you the last few grains of rice or will she share it with her family or fellow Muslim or vice versa?”

Why won't the Malay share his food, either with his neighbour or with a fellow Muslim, during a famine? Does Mr Lee have a special insight as to how Malays will behave in a crisis?

Such a generalisation is deeply offensive to the Malay community.

But this is not the first time Mr Lee has made such racist and provocative remarks. He has made similar disparaging comments against Singaporean Indians.

To set Mr Lee straight, there were numerous instances during the riots when Singaporeans of different races had banded together to safeguard the community's common well-being against crazy mobs.

If after 50 long years of PAP government the MM still does not have confidence in Singaporeans' solidarity, whose fault is it? Is he laying the fault on the Malays?

The other statement is, according to SDP CEC member Mr Jufrie Mahmood, a more serious one as it touches on the Malays' religious beliefs. Mr Lee said in the interview, "The influence from the Middle East has made them have head-dresses for no rhyme or reason.”

For no rhyme or reason?

"The need to dress modestly, which includes the wearing of head-dresses by Muslim women, is a religious obligation stated in the Quran," Mr Jufrie pointed out. "It has existed for centuries. Is this not reason enough?"

What is even more baffling, says Mr Jufrie, is that there has not been any attempt by the MUIS or the numerous Muslim organisations to correct him.

"For obvious reasons I had not expected the Muslim MPs to do it. But the complete silence from MUIS and other religious leaders is really telling," the SDP leader said. "This incident reminds me of a somewhat similar incident in the seventies.

"Encik Othman Wok, the then minister-in-charge of Muslim affairs had publicly said that he doubted there is such a thing as the hereafter (life after death), which is one of the pillars of the Islamic faith.

"My late father, who was then the President of MUIS, told me that he had gone to see him to tell him that as a Muslim and minister of Muslim affairs he should not have said such a thing.

"Mr Othman Wok's reply was that he was only expressing his personal opinion. He was nevertheless told that it was wrong for him to express it publicly and that he should keep his personal opinion to himself.

"Will the current MUIS President seek to correct the MM? I'm not holding my breath?"


Anonymous said...

he also expressing his own opinion. whats wrong?

Anonymous said...

At this day and age, and at such a civilize world we live in, there is no excuse for racism. anywhere in the world. you don't even have to be educated to know basic human respect. Because at the end of it all, we are just flesh and bones.

JunW said...

Wasn't some guy jailed for posting racist remarks on his web?

Sam said...

hey seelan, i talked to my elders and they told me the headscarf is a lot more commonly worn today than 50 years ago.

in my opinion, while the tennet has been there for a long time, and that islam has long been entwined with malay culture, the practice of wearing the headscarf is somewhat "new".

i hope a malay elder can shed more light on this. would like to know more about this history.

and of course, i don't quite get lee kuan yew's point on the famine and food sharing thing. i think in a famine, we'll all be hoarding food for ourselves and our own families 1st, regardless of other affiliations. at least i would

Anonymous said...

The malays will still give you a piece of chicken. But it is not Islam, but all religions are designed in such a way to favour their own breathen. Kuan Yew could also say the same for the evangelical christians among our Chinese Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

The same said of the Malays applies to the Chinese Christans in our country. I don't expect the Malay MPs to say anything. They're just smart spineless wannabes riding on the banner of their race and religion to garner any semblance of vote.

Anonymous said...

Comment by the MM on the Malays do border on insensitivity as most Sin gaporeans have good friends and relationship with the Malay community, with no issue on the sharing.. and cannot imagine that they don't share among themselves.
There are selfish ones but this is in all races, not just the Malays..

However, with regards to -
"The other statement is, according to SDP CEC member Mr Jufrie Mahmood, a more serious one as it touches on the Malays' religious beliefs. Mr Lee said in the interview, "The influence from the Middle East has made them have head-dresses for no rhyme or reason.”

For no rhyme or reason?

"The need to dress modestly, which includes the wearing of head-dresses by Muslim women, is a religious obligation stated in the Quran," Mr Jufrie pointed out. "It has existed for centuries. Is this not reason enough?"

- Then why is it only in the recent times, that this is an issue. It was not an issue before that head dresses was not worn in public (not muslim) schools..

Anonymous said...

Sad to say yes. But that's because they are a very close-knit community. Even the Chinese do it and they have nothing but contempt for the other races.

Look around you, everywhere and everything is catered for the Chinese, Singaporean or otherwise. Nothing for the Malays or the other minorities.

Can you blame them for not sharing their food with their non-Malay neighbours?

Anonymous said...

Seelan, I thought I saw several comments before, including mine.. what happened to these comments?


guojun said...

Because having an enemy makes it a lot easier to explain things in a convincing manner. Politics is just as much about sentiment as about cold rational thought.

Seelan Palay said...

Hi soojen, all the comments are here, check again.

Seelan Palay said...

To the 1st Anonymous commentator: Of course I accept that he can express his opinon, but if you don't find anything alarming about his opinion, then that only says a lot about your own character.

Anonymous said...

You should be thankful that never once did he threaten you with bloodshed or tell you if you don't like it go back to Indonesia or whatever!!

He never demand any recognition of Ketuanan China or threaten to run amok with parang if you ignore his sensitivity........Hehehe....Sound very childish eh? Exactly what I mean! For the record, I don't like the man LKY!

ang said...

I totally agree with LKY's view that tudung wearing is more Middle-Eastern Arab Influence than so-called Koran requirement myth.

You mean in the 60s & before where u rarely see Malays wear tudung, they are lousy muslims compared to today?

I rejoice whenever I see young Malay girls & adults not wearing the tudung !

As for that sharing food thing, LKY is talking nonsense - no relevance to race, to each his own in a famine.

JunW ;) said...

On a related note:-

JunW said...

Two jailed for racist postings on the Internet

The Straits Times. Publication Date : 2005-10-08

Two men were sentenced to jail on Friday (Oct 7) for posting racist remarks about Muslims on the Internet in the first case of its kind here.

Nicholas Lim Yew, 25, and Benjamin Koh Song Huat, 27, were charged under the Sedition Act for promoting "feelings of ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore" on the Internet.

On Friday, Koh was sentenced to jail for a month and Lim for a day. Lim was also fined S$5,000 (US$2,970).


The two men could have been jailed for up to three years and fined S$5,000.


Meanwhile, a third blogger, private school student Gan Huai Shi, has been charged with posting racist remarks online.

The 17-year-old faces seven charges under the Sedition Act for offences he was said to have committed between April 4 and July 16.


Anonymous said...

while i agree with most of the article, disagree with Mr Jufrie's comment about the headress.

if i'm not mistaken, the quran does not specifically call for the wear of the headress. specification of how the headress should be worn, or if the headress should even be worn is in itself an academic debate.

Anonymous said...

I am an elderly Malay and wish to state that the need to cover one self is an Islamic injunction for the ladies to generally expose face and palms of hand only. Come to Ministry of Malay Affairs blogspot to debate the issue as the Qurans encourages Muslim to,"...invite people to Islam with wisdom and good debate." The reason for LKY insecurity with Islam is that Islam and politics are inseparable. The tenet of Islam is there is no God worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God" puts LKY immediately at dis ease with Islam. In an interverview with Fareed Zakaria, he realising the sensitivity of Muslims, regarded Islamic fundamentalism as a problem but cleverly packaged with "..if I say Islam is unadequate.." to underline his fear of the religion. Historically, civil disquiet on Islamic themes such as Maria Hertog case and madrasah impending closure in 2000 etc had led govt to be extra careful with religion to the point that it had comatosed Muslims. The irony then is that Muslims began to look into Islam as solace and the tudung is an expression of that return to Islam which could be considered a sleeping volcano that can erupt. LKY knew this tghat is the reason GCK decided to exempt madrasahs from the Compulsory Education Act when large numbers of Muslims gathered for Hajat Prayers (Prayers of Great Intent) at the Playfair School grounds to safeguard Malay madrasahs knowing full well to do otherwise is tom put Singapore in a tense security situation.

In short LKY's worry with Malays and Muslims are politically-themed to ensure his continued power and nothing to do with rightness or wrongness of culture and religion. In a last years National Rally speech, LHL reiterated his father's worry by asking audience to look elswhere the growing Islamism in the region and by way of example upheld the era of P Ramli movies when Malays are more liberal, dress more openly, drink more, mix more and practice less (religion). Muslims responded today by practising more.

Seelan Palay said...

Sharp observations and points, sir.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous that the headwear or tudung is not described in detail except the phrase"...cover your bsom" and to "dress modesly" and "to lower your gaze.." etc. So the subject of headwear is the subject of constant debate but it is political Islam that the present government is worried about because iuf Muslims are properly educated they accepted that their lives on this world should be a life of sacrifes and not merry making and the object of their fear is to ONE GOD and not to ONE MAN. In short to celebrate death and not life.."(the very words that OSAMA uses to glamorise "terror") The fact of the matter is when all Muslims realise their true mission ie to fight and dismiss all false gods including tyranny and materialism and to worship one true god, the unislamic authority of the day will be severely challenged. Thus it is not about the tudung perse. This challenge will come when "...there is no fear or sadness.." a quranic urging repeated many times across the holy book.