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Singapore envoy tells off Utusan Malaysia over commentary

 | August 17, 2017

High Commissioner writes second letter about 'inaccuracies and misrepresentations' in Utusan Malaysia’s reporting on Singapore’s upcoming presidential election.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore’s envoy to Malaysia has taken Utusan Malaysia to task for publishing “inaccuracies and misrepresentations” regarding Singapore’s upcoming presidential election.

In a letter to Utusan Malaysia, High Commissioner Vanu Gopala Menon warned: “Singapore will not tolerate the use of race or religion to promote ill-will between different segments of Singapore society, or to undermine our institutions.”

The Straits Times (ST) today reported that Menon had written the letter in response to Utusan Malaysia’s Aug 14 commentary titled “Berubahkah nasib kaum Melayu di Singapura? Presiden sekadar simbolik (Will the fortunes of Malays change in Singapore? President is only symbolic)”.

He had earlier written another letter regarding Utusan’s May 28 editorial to point out inaccuracies regarding next month’s presidential race that has been reserved for Malay candidates.

He said: “The editor did not publish my letter for reasons I could not understand other than not providing a true picture to the readers. Instead, the editor published a second commentary, with similar inaccuracies and misrepresentations of Singapore’s presidential election and of the statements by Singapore’s political office holders.”

In the Aug 14 article, Marzita Abdullah had said, among other things, that the role of the president of Singapore “sounds great but it is only symbolic without any political power”.

“Maybe because non-Malays in Singapore are given priority and advantages in all aspects, the (earlier) presidents involved did not have to struggle to consider the fate of their own race.

“Therefore, when a Malay holds the role of president, the direction that Malays are headed will surely be given attention as that race constantly feels sidelined in their own country.”

According to the ST report, Menon explained, in the latest letter, that the president was the symbol and unifier of a multi-racial Singapore and the custodian of the country’s reserves. He is also the protector of the integrity of the republic’s public service.

Menon wrote that Malays in Singapore had “achieved significant social and economic progress within Singapore’s rules-based and meritocratic society”.

The ST quoted him as saying: “It is incorrect to say that non-Malays in Singapore have been given ‘priority and advantages’. We certainly do not have a race-based system of benefits and patronage.”


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