Monday, April 15, 2013


By Mansor Puteh

Singapore today is totally different than it was in the 1940s, 1950s and also the 1960s, when it was almost like a Melayu state, or in the years since it was first habitated by Melayu and known as Temasik and later Singapura.

Ancient Singapore or Temasik was established by Sang Nila Utama, it was a Melayu state with a small group of Chinese who were said to be there; they, however, still definitely had to come from China and nowhere else, and who were fortunate enough not to be slaughtered or killed especially if they misbehaved and insisted on having their way.  

And Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was brave as well as cunning enough to have said in a recorded interview or commentary how Singapore was not a Melayu state. He even said so in the Melayu language and not in English.

Yes, Kuan Yew could speak Melayu then, and he could do it very well, like a typical Melayu or Peranakan Baba-Chinese by virtue of the fact that his mother was a Chinese from Semarang, Jawa in Indonesia.  

And he was strongly aligned with the Utusan Melayu newspaper which was then based in Cecil Street, where he acted as their lawyer.

It was also not a Chinese state.

But that was in the 1960s when he first became prime minister of the country, which was expelled from the Federation of Malaya or Malaysia by the country’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

If Kuan Yew had demanded his state of Singapore leave the Federation, chances are he might have been arrested under the International Security Act or ISA.

But because he was asked to take Singapore out of the Federation or Kingdom of Malaysia, the matter did not arise.

Kuan Yew was said to have cried when he got the boot. Why did he cry for?

Some people say that he cried because he realized that his dream of becoming prime minister of the whole of Malaysia had been pulled from under his feet.

If Singapore was still allowed to remain in Malaysia, chances are this might have happened, so the whole of Malaysia today would not be as it is; it will be like Singapore today and not like Singapore in the 1960s.

Malaysia can become not a Melayu country. But it could become a Chinese country much like Singapore today, despite Kuan Yew’s assertion in the 19960s that it was not so, and it was not going to be so.

But anyone can tell that Singapore had morphed from being a Melayu state to a Chinese republic.

The cunning policies adopted by Singapore ensured that the population of the Melayu in the state remains at fourteen percent like it was at the time when the state was expelled from Malaysia.

If the Singapore government had not practiced laws and regulations and preferences like those practiced by the Zionist government of Israel, chances are the population of the Melayu in Singapore would be at least forty percent today. It will be large enough to upset the whole makeup of the state.

The Arabs in Israel too were displaced by the new Zionists who were brought in from all over the world who were given citizenship under the Law of Return, whereas the Arab-Palestinians are not even allowed to marry fellow Arabs to live with them in Israel where many of them are citizens living in ghettos where they were not allowed to fully assimilate with the other Jews.

Singapore also does the same by giving preference to Chinese from Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China to become citizens or permanent residents, so much so that most of the meaty jobs are now in the hands of these group of Chinese, which finally broke the camel’s back when the voters of Singapore gave it back to the People’s Action Party or PAP, in the last two general elections which saw the opposition getting more and more votes and seats.

The most major grouse that the Chinese of Singapore have concerns the import of those ‘alien’ Chinese, who are obviously more educated than the majority of the Chinese of Singapore who were brought into the country and given posh jobs because they are highly qualified or fabulously wealthy.

I have just read two books written by Kuan Yew including the one on educating the young Singaporeans. But he only talked about Mandarin and English education so they could be more marketable internationally to ensure the island-republic stay competitive and to develop it to be what it is today.

Unfortunately, he did not even mention the need for Singaporeans especially the Melayu to study their language like he did not care for the well-being of the Melayu who comprise fourteen percent of the population so with their good command of the language, they could also be marketable internationally especially in Malaysia.

No wonder there are now so few Melayu-Singaporeans who are educated. There are also so few professors, professionals and other qualified individuals that we know of.

The role of Utusan Melayu in the early history of Singapore seemed to have been downplayed, as much as the development of the Old Melayu Cinema which was then based mostly on Jalan Ampas and a bit of it in East Coast Road in the country, around which the social and cultural behaviors of the Singaporeans of all races center.

The Melayu Cinema then was thought to be a strong and important glue to unite the people of all races in Singapore so much so that it was established not by the government but by Chinese immigrants from Shanghai, the Shaw Brothers – Rum Me and Run Run Siou who later changed their names to a surname with an English-sounding name of Shaw.

They were Cantonese, so when they got to Singapore they realized that the Hokkien Chinese knew the name to mean ‘crazy’.

But the Shaw Brothers were not crazy to establish their studios called the Malay Film Productions Studios that helped to create many Melayu films in black-and-white with some color ones.

Utusan and Shaw Brothers are now part of the unremembered years of Singapore and Kuan Yew who does not seem to be keen to relate his personal experiences relating with those at Utusan, other than to seek some individuals from the newspaper organization to offer them to be the country’s first president and first Melayu minister in his cabinet, Yusof Ishak and Othman Wok, respectively, where were the early editor and reporter of Utusan.

So it is also not a surprise the original office of Utusan on Cecil Street had been demolished together with all the shops in the row that once stood along the road. There is not even any plague to remind the Singaporeans of today about its existence.

While the Shaw Brothers’ Studios in Jalan Ampas has been left unattended like the Singapore authorities did not know exactly what to do with it, although the area around it has been developed.

And nothing could be more worse when Kuan Yew himself refused to speak in Melayu, a language he was very good at, which had allowed him to convince the Melayu and others who communicated only in this language, which was also going to be the national language of the country, if it had remained in the Federation of Malaysia.

How could anyone forget a language he had acquired when he was born, when he also had encouraged his first son, Hsien Loong to master by encouraging him to read and write in it in the Romanized version as well as in Jawi, or the Arabic script, unless if he does not have any respect or admiration for it?

It is also good to know that Hsien Loong still speak Melayu and is reported to be reading Berita Harian on a daily basis, the Melayu daily published in Singapore, and had given a speech in the language on Labor Day of 2009 that is available on YouTube.

Unfortunately and ironically, the only Melayu member of the cabinet in Singapore, Yaakob Ibrahim chose to speak in English when he came for an official function at the Ministry of Information, Communication and Heritage or KPKK, instead of Melayu.

Chances are, if Kuan Yew was still conversant in the language, he might have many attitudes towards the Melayu and Southeast Asia which he do not have anymore.

Yet, he had no choice but to speak in Melayu with the then President Suharto of Indonesia who did not speak in English and because of that the two of them became better acquainted and almost like buddies.   

1 comment:

Mie Mohd said...

genius finding bro Mansor, seems the Malays origins & Temasik fade into dark for the sake greater "Chinese Republic" of so call Singapore,

beringatlah untuk masa depan identiti anak2 kita