Malays: A Minority at Risk?

I found this study by the University of Maryland which actually identifies the Malay community as a “Minority at Risk”! This university-based research project monitors and analyzes the status and conflicts of politically-active communal groups in all countries with a current population of at least 500,000. The project is designed to provide information in a standardized format that aids comparative research and contributes to the understanding of conflicts involving relevant groups.

Read more about the Malays being a Minority at Risk here. According to the study, the Malays have two of the four factors that increase the chances of future protest: significant political and cultural restrictions and the transitional nature of Singapore’s political system. What do they mean by “political and cultural restrictions”? And how does the “transitional nature of Singapore’s political system” cause Malays to be more prone towards rebellion and protest?

I personally feel that the word “transitional” itself is a stupid word because its so specifically vague that you never know whether you have even started the transition or whether you are at the end of it. Sorites Paradox (I learnt this in GP!) underlines such paradoxical arguments which arise as a result of the indeterminacy surrounding limits of application of the predicates involved (how many rice grains does it take to make a heap?).

But I digress. According to the study:

“The Malays face restrictions on the practice of their religion and the celebration of group holidays. They also remain disadvantaged in the economic arena in comparison to Singapore’s other ethnic groups. Group members are disproportionately represented as urban laborers and low-level service workers and they are the least likely to achieve higher education. Compounding these problems are significant drug usage by community members and their involvement in criminal activity. Public policies to further the Malays economic status have achieved some success. In the mid-1990s, it was reported that 38% of Malay families earned $3000 or more monthly in comparison to 23% in 1990. There are few Malays in high-level political or civil service positions and they are underrepresented in the armed forces. This political discrimination is the result of social exclusion by the politically and economically dominant Chinese.”

I shall ponder about this over my plate of lontong with ayam masak merah and sayur lodeh. Hehehe.


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