About the ‘new’ president in Singapore

July 23, 2017

I have till now refrained from commenting about the recent unwise tweaks on limiting the selection of future presidents in Singapore based on race. My reasons for my reservations are very simple – talking about race based politics in a society that is supposed to be multiracial and meritocratic makes as much sense as trying to make progress by going backwards. By narrowing the choices of future presidents for Singapore based on race this will only further heighten the publics consciousness about race instead of adding any meaningful value to help build a multi racial society.


‘Is he or she Malay enough to be the next president of Singapore’ is a question that has never ever featured before in any public discussion in Singapore. Please don’t blame me for bringing this subject up! As I am not the one asking this question. I am just a simple autistic farmer who is digging holes in the field. As this is a question that is emerging from the Malays themselves in Singapore concerning the choice of presidential candidates….so if you want to take issue…please take it up with them….I am merely looking at a spade and calling it a spade….as it is very natural for them to ask this question since when something that has the power to divide and highlight differences is promoted. Then it can only play out to its logical end. Because the policy makers have inadvertently opened Pandora’s box – as when one limits the selection to ONLY race as a primary criteria. Then it is only natural for those within that segment of society to ask further about identity, culture, heritage, historicism along with all that they consider important within the ambit of race within and beyond its dictionary meaning….so now the Malay community are asking…how tall is his songkok? Is it three, four or six inches….then there are others who are saying if it goes beyond six then might it not be a Turkish Fez and not a songkok!

But you cannot blame them for quibbling about such these details as I said….when everything turns ONLY on race it usually encapsulates a wider and broader Paradigm of identity…so it is conceivable that some Malays may even ask…does the president ‘baru’ enjoy eating lemang and rendang on Hari Raya? Is the lemang cooked over a pokok getah fire or was it prepared with a modern induction oven…because if it is the latter then matilah he or she cannot possibly be a genuine tulin Malay…..and this will go on to such details as to whether the candidate might wear a sarong and if so how is it knotted….might the ends be pulled twisted then folded inwards or outwards. If it the former then it’s a Kelantanese corruption that goes back to their long history of fratenizing with the Thais…matilah some more…he can’t be 100% malay. If it is the former – is there are orthodox line that runs the length of the sarong that tapers ever so slightly only to converge at the fold around the waist….if not! Matilah three times lucky! He is not Malay enough again….my point is I have witnessed such discussions amongst my own workers whenever we live, work and play together in the field and usually such conversations never bring people together. Instead it becomes the causes of schism and divisions…and usually I just tell them all to shaddup lah!

This I can easily do. As I am seen as a patriarchal figure who is responsible for the well being on my ‘Anak bush’ – those who rely on my benevolence and grace to turn the wheel of life….so it is my duty to maintain the compact between land and man. No one will ever scold me in the Kampung if I tell them to shaddup if I nip in the bud anything that threatens the common good of the community….the problem is the same cannot be said about Singapore…that is a very big problem and there you have it the palm of your hands the seeds of schism where one day if it is not well managed Brother will even turn against Brother….this is not wise.’

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