Is Singapore ready for a non-Chinese PM?

This is an article sent by a friend of mine to the Straits Times, which they declined to publish.


15 November 2008

Is Singapore ready for a non-Chinese PM? Why or Why not? What do you think is holding us back?

I’m 61 years old and I still remember very clearly. At that time (60s/70s/80s) there were no extra efforts required to get the various races to mix and be friends with each other, whether in school or in the neighborhood.  Even while I was serving in the SAF, we did not need to be told who we should visit and when.  We were never made to realize who is a Chinese, Malay or Indian.  We were just friends and never thought of the race issue.  Why?  Was it our school system?  Was it our parents?  Was it the manner in which the government delivered the multi-racial, multi-religious message to us?

Why is it that after 43 years of nation building we have to be constantly reminded who we are (i.e., Malays, Chinese or Indians).  This is still clearly stated in our Identity Cards.  The authorities need to make sure that there is a balance in every aspect of life in Singapore; from racial balance in housing estates to the GRCs.  When the festivals come we need to be told that we should visit each other and find out more about each others’ cultures.  We even need to have an interreligious and harmony day in school and at various national levels.  We need to organize visits to each others’ festivals.  What will it be next?  How have we come to this?  Why have we come to this?  These I believe are the core issues

That is why I feel that it will not be made to happen…..never on its own, surely not by design anyway.  It is not going to happen in my lifetime for sure.  I feel that we need to find answers to the simple questions and correct what is going wrong.  Why we cannot go back to the 1960s and 1970s, with regards to racial and religious harmony?  When will we be told that we are Singaporeans.  What are we doing wrong?  How can we correct this?  Then, we can ask the question, “Is Singapore ready for a prime minister who is not Chinese?”

Just because it has happened in the USA it does not mean that we need to find answers to the same question.  I feel that the question is too early for its time.  I fail to understand the purpose of it.  Is it just another rouse, to make us imagine that there is some possibility however remote it might be?  Let’s not kid ourselves.  The majority will continue to rule; however the socioeconomic and geopolitical dynamics will help to maintain its own checks and balances.

My answer would therefore be a clear NO!!

Ajit Singh Nagpal

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.