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Apa Agenda Lee Kuan Yew?
By web aNtu
20/8/2000 11:31 pm Sun
POLITICS IN SINGAPORE:
How Muslims were turned into a minority
The Singapore of the eighties, dominated by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the multinationals of the west, stands for Asian success and prosperity. But behind this glittering facade is the artificial State?s fundamental economic weakness, not to mention the regime?s mockery of democracy and the historical injustice meted out to the Malay Muslims.
Even smaller than little Hong Kong, Singapore is an extension of the Malay Peninsula. It was a part of the Kingdom of Johore (now Malaysia), from which Raffles secured permission to establish a port in 1819. Its absorption into the British colonial empire was like that of Hong Kong. Since independence, China has proved strong enough to rea#sert its sovereignty over Hong Kong, whereas, by contrast, Malaysia lacks even the will to rea#sert its sovereign rights over the island. That explains why there is no republic of Hong Kong (although the republic of Singapore is entirely a British colonial dispensation).
Singapore is an artificial creation, devoid of history. Dedicated to the preservation of western hegemony in the region, Singapore State will be viable only so long as western influence in the region lasts. The much vaunted economic progress of Singapore is a temporary phenomenon, entirely dependent on outside demonstrated during the recent recession, when it swayed to and fro with the American economy.
Singapore benefits from the current political and social unrest in neighboring countries. Western capitalists therefore find in Singapore a safe haven for their investments. For the same reason, the corrupt politicians and generals of the Far East, fearful of revolutions, also invest their ill gotten gains in Singapore, instead of in their own countries. These temporary advantages, however, cannot last for ever.
Some irremediable economic weaknesses are because of Singapore?s entrepot trade. Refined petroleum products, tin, rubber, coffee, pepper, textiles, timber, cocoa, coconut, palm oil, rattan and so on are obtained from overseas for export.
When other countries in the region begin to ship their own exports directly to Europe and the US in their own ships, Singapore will find its huge port empty. About 75 per cent of Singapore?s income is derived from the American financed refineries that import petroleum from Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf States and Sumatra. When Indonesia recently opened three new refineries of its own, Singapore's oil revenue plummeted. Should the Arabs do the same, Singapore?s economy would collapse.
The dependence of Singapore on the West and its neighboring countside world for every grain of rice and every drop of water that its two and a half million people need. With its 232 square miles of unproductive land, surrounded by neighbors made hostile by its growing arrogance, the question remains how long Singapore can maintain the pretence of being an ?independent? republic.
Despite its membership of the a#sociation of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore is still an ?odd man out?, whose interests rarely coincide with those of the others. While other ASEAN rnember-States tend towards protectionism in their trading policies,
Singapore?s trading interests obviously run counter to this. When others endeavor to control capital out-flow, Singapore, having made itself the regional money market, has to oppose the attempt, however gingerly, since its prosperity depends largely on the free flow of capital. At times Singapore has refused to take part in obligatory joint venture projects, resulting in the abandonment of some projects. Some projects have been completed without it.
More than a century ago, when Raffles took over Singapore, its entire population consisted of Muslim ethnic Malays. With the growth of the port, the British colonial administrators imported cheap labor from China (mostly Buddhists) and from India (mostly Hindus). Thus for the first time in Singapore?s history non-Muslim minorties were introduced to what until then had been a purely Muslim community. Realizing the strategic importance of Singapore, at the narrowest point of the Malacca Straits, the British transferred their South-East Asian colonial headquarters from Penang to Singapore in 1832. Since then it has become the most important British naval base east of Suez.
When Singapore became an independent republic on August 9, 1965, the composition of its population had altered drastically : 75 per cent were Buddhist (Chinese), 10 per cent Hindu (Indians), and only 15 per cent Muslim (Malays).
Thus Muslim Singaporeans were turned into a minority, belonging to the lowest cla#s, in their own country. They are now treated by the new-comers as second-cla#s citizens fit only for menial work. In the words of an independent study made this year, ?the word Malay has virtually become synonymous with driver, fisherman, gardener or peon, the colonial-era word for messenger.? And since in Singapore the word Malay is also synonymous with Muslim the prestige of Islam is hardly any higher than that of its followers. The failure of Malaysia to a#sert its independence is responsible in no small measure for encouraging Singapore?s latter-day citizens to despise the Singaporean Muslims.
The Singaporean Muslims have undergone a drastic change of fortune for the worse. Until 1965, under the British, some 80 per cent of army personnel in the lower ranks were Muslim Malays. Since ?independence? this fraction has decreased sharply. Today, Singapore?s army is 100 percent Chinese at the higher level and only 5 per cent Muslim Malay at the lowest. In the name of ?meritocracy?, when the very principle invoked should have kept the experienced Muslims on their jobs because they were better trained and possessed greater experience, inexperienced Chinese recruits replaced them. This politically inspired
change was effected under all kinds of subterfuge.
For example, a conscription law was pa#sed to call into military service young men of certain age group. What happened, however, was that only Chinese youths were called up for active duty, leaving out Muslim Malay youths. Systematic discrimination against Muslims goes even deeper.
Those who have not done their military service are not given permanent jobs in any public or private enterprise. The excuse is very handy: important jobs cannot be given to those who are liable to quit at a moment?s notice for military duty.
But both the employers and the recruits know that Muslims will probably never be called up for Singapore?s army duty. A whole generation of Singaporean Muslims has been kept out of good jobs in this way.
From holding 75 per cent of the law-enforcement posts during British rule, Muslims today have been replaced by others. Only 180 Muslims are now left in executive positions in the civil service, compared with 6,520 Chinese. There should have been at least 980 Muslims in these positions in accordance with their percentage among the population, 15 per cent compared to the Chinese 75 per cent.
There are indeed several Muslim MPs who are elected on ruling People?s Action Party (PAP) tickets. But they can hardly speak in defense of Muslims? interests. As foreign observers stated in the recent study, ?those politicians who stood up for Malay (Muslim) interests soon found themselves out of favor with the PAP?s top leaders.?
Because of this, all Muslim MPs belonging to the PAP party are considered puppets of the Chinese regime by their fellow Muslims. It is obvious therefore that the Muslim minority in Singapore has no real political opportunity to redress their plight peacefully, although there are ?elections? in ?democratic? free Singapore.
Singapore?s attitude towards the Islamic movement is exactly the same as the attitude of the other hypocritical regimes of the region towards Islam. In fact the Singapore regime is cooperating closely with other secular ?Islamic? regimes in this matter. Muslim activists are subjected to arbitrary arrest for questioning by this Chinese regime.
Relations between the Singapore Islamic community and the Islamic movement in the region are scrutinized by the Singapore Special Branch. It is only a de-politicized and decapitated Islam that is allowed a semblance of freedom of religion in Singapore. not the real all-encompa#sing Islam.
Administratively, Islam is con-trolled through a department in the Ministry of Social Affairs called MUIS (Majelis Ugama Islam), ?Council for Islamic religion?. This regime?s appointed council controls the mosques, writes and distributes the sermons for Friday prayers, collects and distributes zakah and fitrah and arranges the pilgrimage to Makkah. The sharp edge of the relationship between the local Islamic community and the repressive Chinese regime is softened only by the blatantly exaggerated friendliness shown by the regime - as a public relations gimmick - to the endless stream of Arab dignitaries from Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf shaikhdoms visiting Singapore to inspect their real estate in town.
Source: *Muslimedia Feb 1986