Transitioning continued our online interview series on racial discrimination with a Malay PMET Ady who works in the educational sector.
Transitioning (T): First of all Ady, tell us abit more about yourself e.g. your age, educational qualifications and working experience.
Ady (A) Age: 38
Educational Qualification: Masters
Working experience: Education and non-profit (Arts & culture), and have since been involved in community and policy-making initiatives
T: Many citizens from the minorities races have complained that they are being discriminated against especially in the employment sector. Do you agree?
T: Personally, have you face any such discriminatory practice before?
A: None in the employment sector, because I have addressed such issues head-on when they present themselves.
T: Many people have also speculated that the current government uses a divide-and-rule governance practice here, do you agree with this statement?
A: If we are referring here to clear separation by ethnic enclaves and Race being one of the primary categories in state and private sector administration, then yes.
T: Do you think that the government has done enough for the minorities races here? After all, we know that the Malays enjoy almost free education up to tertiary level compared to the other races.
A: There can never be enough done for any races here in Singapore if ethnicity is still a measure of national advancement and representation. Re free education for the Malay-Muslim community, there have been development and adjustments to this policy. But in my opinion, the onus is on the minority group to empower itself as independently as possible to (re)claim a key political position amongst the other groups and importantly be a global citizen. Issues here will be identifying factors that obstruct the efforts on empowerment and independence.
T: Many Malays are also exempted from serving national service, what is your view on this?
A: It is wrong. No two ways about this. Such exemptions are actually seeds to real conflict amongst communities and ethnic groups.
T: Do you think we should do away with the race category on all our application form especially on our identity card? Why so?
A: No. But the race category must cease being a primary category, especially in government/national measures.
T: What do you think the government can do to bridge the gap between the different races in Singapore?
A: Confront it’s own fears on race and ethnicity.
T: Racial harmony has being religiously preached by our government for many years already but do you think it is happening here?
A: No. Harmony here is approached through tolerance, which is a very flawed approach as it does not increase understanding and knowledge. Instead, tolerance further contributes to ignorance and bigotry.
T: Many have also speculated that the Malay race may one day take to the street as they could not withhold their frustration anymore, do you think this is possible?
A: Anyone can take to the street one day if that is what they have been forced to do. The concern here is why there is speculation of such in the first place. Any speculation only suggests that there is recognition of a growing problem, but what is troubling is how this recognition is seriously and sincerely addressed. Speculation only makes matters worse.
T: Do you think that the Malays themselves are also divided and too self-centred to pull themselves out of the current economic plight? Moreover, they are also over represented in the drug rehab and teenage pregnancies statistics.
A: Contrary to popular belief, the Malay-Muslim community has made significant progress especially in areas of economic standing. The problem with Malay-Muslim being over-represented still (arguably) in substance abuse and teenage pregnancies must not be a community (ethnic) issue BUT a state/national issue. Seeing such problems through ethnic lenses only perpetuates racism in Singapore.
End of Interview and thank you.