But even as most Singaporean Malays are progressing, filling more places in universities and polytechnics, joining the middle class and living in bigger homes, one small group is falling behind.
And it is this minority — the dysfunctional families — that concerns Mr Lee Hsien Loong.
On the rise: Divorce rates, the number of single-parent households and an “unacceptably high number” of teenage births and early marriages. Calling last night on self-help group Mendaki to mobilise a community-wide effort to address the problem of such families, Mr Lee said this was vital to avert a “serious social problem” and “a human tragedy”.
“In the last two years, the community has started to tackle these issues. But you need to muster a major effort focused on this problem, and work out practical and effective solutions.
“In this area, your self-help efforts are critical….”
Excerpts from TODAY, 3 Sep 07
PM Lee, in his speech at Mendaki yesterday, brought up the issue about dysfunctional Malay families yet again. He had already mentioned it during the Malay portion of his National Day Rally speech last month, and I believe he also mentioned it during last year’s speech. Now he says it may result in a “serious social problem” and “a human tragedy”.
Obviously this is a very worrisome issue for the government, and the situation hasn’t improved much over the past year, otherwise PM Lee wouldn’t have mentioned it again and again.
But is this a Malay problem for the “Malay community” to solve on their own, or it is a problem that ALL Singaporeans need to collectively tackle? In his speech, PM Lee used the word “you” more than “we” to describe who needs to deal with the problem. I wonder why? Aren’t we all Singaporeans? Why the “it’s-your-problem-go-solve-it” approach? Should we continue on in our “self help” approach to problems, or is an “all of us help” approach more appropriate in today’s Singapore?
PM Lee mentioned that “it is much harder for the Government to intervene, or for other voluntary welfare organisations outside the Malay/Muslim community to take action, without being misunderstood or triggering a defensive reaction”. Is this really the case, or is it a false assumption? If done sensitively, would it be possible for Singapore’s limited social support resources to be redirected to where the need is currently most acute?
This post is not intended to be another smart alec commentary criticizing government policies. I don’t know enough about social problems to comment. I would really like to hear from readers what YOU think is the way forward.