Singapore Malays better off, claims minister

K-Shanmugam-singaporePETALING JAYA: Singapore Malays are better in terms of education standing, skills and wealth than a Malaysian or Indonesian Malay, says Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

“With a stable, strong political system, with a strong government, with a guarantee for the minorities … with this framework, we can become the community that Muslim societies in other countries look towards and say, this is the example,” he said at the annual seminar organised by the Association of Muslim Professionals, reported ChannelNews Asia.

“Look at the progress in education – our PISA scores, look at mathematics, science, reading.

“Compare a Malay PMET (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) in Singapore and a Malay PMET in Malaysia, who is doing better.

“The same goes for the Indians, and for the Chinese in Singapore.

“Take them versus their counterparts across the causeway or around the region, we do better,” said Shanmugam.

However, he cautioned that while Singapore is doing better compared to many parts of the world, “within Singapore there is still a gap”, he said. “Our competition is no longer just Malaysia or Indonesia, we are competing with the world.”

He said the proportion of Malay Primary 1 students who go on to post-secondary education had doubled from 45% in 1995 to 93% in 2015. Those who eventually receive polytechnic diplomas, professional qualifications or university degrees have “gone up over a five-year period to 21%.”

He added that the proportion of Malays working as professionals, managers, executives and technicians increased to 28% in 2010 and the median real monthly income per capita has doubled since 1990.

Nearly 90% of Malay households own their own homes.
However, Shanmugam singled out three challenges facing the Malay-Muslim community: radicalisation, loss in jobs and the over-representation of Malays being caught for crimes and drug abuse.

The minister cited a Pew Research Centre study which showed that 10% of Malaysian Malays had a favourable opinion of Islamic State (IS) and nearly one-quarter were not prepared to come out and say that IS is wrong.

“We have to make sure that we do not get there. And a key part of that depends on you, the leaders of the Malay community – whether you can make sure that the right religious values are put forth. We have to work hard at this because the influences are on the internet,” said Shanmugam.

On drug abuse, the minister said 53% of drug abuses arrested last year were Malays. This is an increase from 10 years ago when the proportion of Malay drug abusers arrested was 32%.