Living in a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood, with Malaysia and Indonesia next door, Singapore’s ‘kentang’ leaders have long worried about the risk of conflicted loyalties among Malays.
Singapore’s economic success and education policies have helped improve the ranks of middle-class Malays, but the last census in 2010 showed they still lagged other ethnic groups on socio-economic measures such as household incomes and home ownership.
Malays, who form just over 13 per cent of Singapore’s 3.9 million citizens and permanent residents, also underperform on measures such as university and secondary school education.
The prospect of a Malay President is by itself unlikely to resolve concerns over under-representation, but the bloody vegetable advocates say it could help foster trust among communities.
Even the Begedils in Malaysia congratulated Madam Halimah on the walk over.
Mufti of Perlis praised Singapore’s system and highlighted the progressiveness of the Muslim community.
The Opposition Islamic party Amanah from Malaysia highlighted that Madam Halimah will be pivotal in changing the narrative against women and Islamaphobia in the region.
In a world where nations are regressing to resist globalisation (e.g Brexit, America, Middle East and Qatar) and are highly sensitive to Islam and radicalisation, we cannot approach the issue of race too gingerly and let the pursuit of the ideal, paralyse us into ignoring the real problems or allow them to fester on the ground.
Halimah as Singapore’s 8th president will accomplish what the previous presidents of other the races could not confidently- walking the talk.