Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Politically Incorrect Politician

At the Tanjong Pagar "Singapore 21 forum" on 18 Sept 1999, a polytechnic student had asked then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew if certain instinctive emotional bonds among ethnic groups could be surmounted for Singapore to become a nation. This was 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. "

That prompted two Malay-Muslim groups to call for a dialogue with Lee. Taman Bacaan, a grassroots group, said Malay MPs should have a "heart-to-heart" discussion with Lee. Majlis Pusat, the central council for 38 Malay-Muslim cultural bodies, wanted Malay-Muslim grassroots leaders and groups to take part in the dialogue and "put the issue of Malay-Muslim loyalty to rest, once and for all".

This time the AFP report, citing MM Lee Kuan Yew had urged local Muslims, who he said were socially “distinct and separate,” to “be less strict on Islamic observances” to aid integration and the city-state’s nation-building process, drew ire from across the causeway and beyond.
Led by Malaysian Islamic Scholars Association (PUM) and Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), Muslim organisations criticised Lee for his “Islamophobic” comments.
“His statement seemed to be anti-Islamic and reflects an Islamophobia that is baseless and not founded on historical fact and current reality,” said Abim secretary-general Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim in a press statement. “Muslims do not need any interference from non-Muslims in religious matters,” PUM secretary Mohd Roslan said, adding that Muslims do not question the practices of other religions.
Mohamad Raimi also said that even though most Muslims in the region were moderate and peaceful, Lee had taken a “step backwards” with his comment which could incite a reaction from Muslim groups who were more radical.

Dr. Imtiyaz Yusuf, Professor of Religion at Bangkok's Assumption University said the views of Lee about Islam do not hold water and criticizing and generalizing about Islam as being un-integrative is unsophisticated.
"When I identify myself as a Muslim in Southeast Asia, I am defined as a person who does not eat pork and has four wives. I am sure that if Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus were to ever meet today, they would not talk about pigs and women, they would address more profound issues facing humanity today such as materialism, the reduction of the role of religion in social and moral life and the negative effects of globalized economy on the poor sections of society."

Well said, Professor.


  1. MM Lee Kuan Yew is revered by Singaporeans of all Races and Beliefs!!!

  2. He is just stating the facts. The Muslims know this and does not want to face this issue, not only in Singapore but everywhere else in the world. For a start, they should not hide their faces behind a veil or wear a tudung. Imagine what kind of racial and religious tensions we would get if everyone wears their race/religious attire?

  3. So shall we also get turbans off sikhs' heads? And the cross off the necks of Christians? I thought that Singapore should be a place for everyone, "regardless of race, language or religion."

  4. Indians were recently banned from using drums to celebrate Thaipusam. Let's see if the noisy "yum sengs" will be banned this Chinese New Year!

  5. I remembered the old man once remarked many many years ago that if Taoist followers choose to continue with their spiritual beliefs and practices, who is anyone to question their beliefs ? Looking back in hindsight, is it not evident that this statement of his sounds so hollow now ?

    So in the same manner, who is this old man to tell Muslims to be less strict in their religious practices ?

    We witness here again another clear cut example of double standards being practised by those in power, ie. certain people always gets away scot-free inflicting their most insensitive remarks about others while certain people could be detained and questioned for the most flimsiest excuse.

    The real hard truth is that this old man is now becoming more and more irrelevant and has to create some controversial issue to deflect on the current blunders of those in charge. Don't you agree ?

  6. Anti-Abrahamic religulous NUTS1/27/2011 8:38 PM

    Just Google House of peace and House of war,

    or even, verse of the sword, IT you will open your eyes.

    Lets call a spade a spade and not beat around the burning bush

  7. know islam before u criticize islam..

  8. The lack of true integration is less religion-based & more fuelled by political ulterior motives. For instance, when renewing my passport for work purposes, I discovered I had to complete my online personal profile courtesy of ICA.

    And I was very frustrated that the Religion pull-down field is compulsory (or else the electronic form & passport application won't be processed) -- yet there is no category called Atheist or None. Likewise for the Race section, also a compulsory pull-down field.

    When everyone in S'pore is being constantly reminded of what race or religion s/he belongs to, & the obsessive compulsion to declare these during every official & non-official transaction, it's no surprise that the population here tends towards differentiation & segregation.

    On the ground, it is very common to observe the different ethnic groups speaking "privately" in their own languages, when they are forced to share the same working or social space in public -- as if to officially declare that they are merely tolerating one another's presence & they WANT everyone to know that. It is very disturbing & hurtful to watch & experience.

    As the saying goes, divide & rule. It is easier to bulldoze one's rules across, when the population being ruled is constantly divided. Indeed, it is very telling that MM Lee has again opined (poker-faced) that S'pore is still not a real nation after all these years after the 1965 separation from M'sia. How sad actually.

  9. Fire crackers, an almost only Chinese tradition for festive celebrations had been outlawed for almost four decades and penalty is high for offences related to it. Public worship in residential property especially for Toaist has wisely been 'discouraged' and me hopes the effort will continue.
    Certain non-traditional religious practices have evolved over the years and some are creating inconveniences and even disturbances and nuisances to others. So, yes a certain amount of restrains and restrictions are beneficial to the overall population and its' wellbeings.
    Faith and piety are very personal belief and one can wholesomely fulfill ones' religious piety without having to show overtly how pious one is.
    There is a dire need to understand that religious differences have had caused many unpleasant conflicts throughout history. Any true believers would want to live happily in a peaceful society and the believer him/herself has to play contributing role to the desired peace. And this role can be easily and faithfully attained by keeping ones' religious piety and devotion within ones' heart and also to live and let live.

  10. is election time and the ground isn't exactly as sweet as before, so what better way to galvanise and distract by employing divisive language and politics to prey on imaginary fears?

    singaporeans are so easily fooled by the old despot.

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