KUALA LUMPUR: Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin teased that although Singaporeans are rather “kiasu”, they are however proud of their Singaporean identity.
The Umno Youth leader said Singapore’s late founding leader Lee Kuan Yew had played a crucial role in shaping this national pride.
During the TN50x Dialogue today, where the topic of curbing racism in Malaysia was raised, Khairy spoke of a conversation he once had with the former prime minister of Singapore.
Khairy said Lee told him there were three things he had done to reduce racism and ensure Singaporeans would one day be proud of their identity.
“He said he got rid of vernacular schools so there are no Chinese schools in Singapore. There are just national schools and you have to go to these schools,” said Khairy, who was the moderator for the dialogue alongside former minister Abdul Wahid Omar.
Khairy also said that in Singapore, unlike Malaysia, it was difficult to enrol in an international school.
The second point raised by Lee, Khairy said, was the compulsory two-year national service course that Singaporeans had to complete.
“Not three months, but two years,” added Khairy, comparing it to the duration of the National Service programme here.
Lastly, Khairy said Lee spoke of the Housing and Development Board (HDB), a Singapore government agency in charge of public housing, that prioritised a mixed demographic makeup of Singaporeans.
“So there is no Chinese area, no Malay area, no Indian area, there are no ghettos. It is all according to (mixed) demographics and it works.”
Khairy said these were the things Malaysians needed to look into because there were groups still against the removal of vernacular schools here.
Khairy added Malaysian national schools were now regarded by many as “Malay” schools. He said this should not be the case, and the true image of national schools should re-emerge.