09 February 2017
Something very exciting is brewing in Singapore. With the predominantly 76% of Chinese out of its 5.7 million population, the island republic is all set to usher in a Malay as its next president later this year.
The city state has not had a Malay president for almost 46 years since Yusof Ishak became its first head of state in 1965, after Singapore separated from Malaysia, and held the office till he died in 1970.
Long after his passing, Yusof, who was born in Perak and a prominent journalist who founded the Utusan Melayu, still casts a shadow over Singaporeans as his image appears on the nation’s currency notes.
The incumbent Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam is the seventh president and other than Yusof, three other former presidents were Chinese, two were Indians and one was Eurasian.
… Yang Razali Kassim, the ex-chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals in Singapore told me that Singapore Malays welcomed this first reserved election notwithstanding reservations among sections of Singapore voters, including the Malays themselves.
“I see this as a path-breaker towards the next step: an elected prime minister from the minority community, including possibly a Malay, as a long-term goal. At least the psychological threshold has been breached, it’s not something impossible to have a PM from the Indian, Malay or Eurasian community one day,” he said.
Yang Razali, who is a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, added: “This reserved election is crucial in that respect; it shapes the minds of Singaporean voters to move towards a new normal for national leadership.”
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 10/02/2017