however you read it, the racial riots of 1964 were political attempts to stir tensions between singapore malays and the other races during a critical period that may have seen Singapore's demise. july's riots were attributed to malaysia, and september's riots, the indonesians.
it (and other nearby racial riots) remains the wellspring used to this day to dampen any race or politics cards that get revealed from time to time.
with a chap like Leeky involved and in-charge, i think nobody can be surprised things are what they are today. a year after the riots, he proclaimed in 1965 that singapore is "not a Malay nation: this is not a Chinese nation, this is not an Indian nation. everyone will have his place, equal: language, culture, religion."
perhaps a better way to accept/understand what he meant is to assume he wanted things to be "proportionate" in anything can be vaguely related to language, culture and religion because it surely has been kept that way ever since. policies/OOB markers were adopted along the way to ensure this weird proportionate equality.
looking at recent (and not so recent) world events, they surely cannot be no matter how advanced, developed or mature a people or nation. so is this a case of "the more things change, the more they remain the same?"
my opinion as a "partial outsider" has led me to both take things for granted in Singapore, and resent policies/norms when they are applied "unfairly" in my eyes even unto Singaporeans.
insofar as the ethnic malays in singapore have a special identity, statistically they remain both a minority and not proportionately "privileged," and likely so for a very long time to come.
Singapore Constitution (Act), XIII s(152) entitled "Minorities and special position of Malays" reads (emphasis mine):
It shall be the responsibility of the Government constantly to care for the interests of the racial and religious minorities in Singapore.
The Government shall exercise its functions in such manner as to recognise the special position of the Malays, who are the indigenous people of Singapore, and accordingly it shall be the responsibility of the Government to protect, safeguard, support, foster and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social and cultural interests and the Malay language.
the above act (1965, last revised in 1985) and the government-endorsed "special treatment" of malays appear to me to be at odds with a society that espouses meritocracy and equality when not tempered with the idea of proportionality.
the world view of Leeky formed his opinions about eugenics... perhaps it would not be far-reaching to assume that he believes that certain types of persons prefer certain types of lifestyles - the sort that ostensibly does not fit into his Project Singapore but must still be carried forward.
that there exists a "chinese privilege" is something that is both seen and felt by myself, in the same way my asian wife recognizes "white privilege" in singapore. but this does not come at "all costs" - the proportionality means this is not possible when it comes to the issues and matters that... well, matters.
for example, the chinese are not happy that they are disallowed to buy empty flats (in prime locations/blocks/configurations) reserved for minorities (by quota, not by location/block/configuration) when the chinese are the ones with the money to pay for it. money, for all intents and purposes, they have worked hard to obtain and they should spend as they like.
in another, that a few recent chinese presidential candidates believe they are denied a fair (and good) chance at the presidency can surely be good tinder for the flint and steel that is the 74% chinese majority, dampened by the string windy gusts of C02 that can only be Singapore's MSM.
i could go on, but i this is already a very long post at this point.
suffice to say, there is no solution because there can never be one. there is just a compromise... Leeky's "equality."
the ethnic groups' demographics have remained relatively stable in recent years compared to the late 60s. what has not always been widely espoused is that the population of malays, indians and other minorities have increased marginally - that any increase is still an increase because the reverse is a decrease in the chinese numbers.
that this is a nation of (primarily) immigrants has no bearing on the nation continuing accept any and all immigrants. eg. Arabs living in Singapore circa 1800s does not equate to all Arabs being welcomed into Singapore today. neither should the floodgates open for immigrants from China just to bring in 100k more chinese chaps. given what little i know about Chinese talent, i am confident there are millions of suitable Chinese nationals that can automate and innovate Singapore.
nevertheless, immigration becomes an even more complex issue when managed within the social framework laid down by Leeky.
potential migrants: please decide how (and if) you can realistically fit into this proportionate equality and the social, legal and political framework that is, still, Project Singapore. it is not svalbard! do plan and adjust your expectations accordingly.
if it were truly an "all or nothing" situation, this country would have gone up in flames a long time ago.
the said demise of Singapore would have likely seen this island (it is a very tiny island) incorporated into a neighboring muslim state where there exists no proportionality nor progress for ANY of its people. and we would therefore be discussing this (???) on indonlaysiaexpats.com - or perhaps not at all...
or, for a more immediate and modern example, look at brunei and (try to) imagine it much much smaller and without natural resources nor the real support of UK.
sorry for my rant. a long time coming... some of the questions and remarks posted by newly registered or short term users make it appear almost as if the internet does not exist.