"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Why are there no Muslims in some sectors of the Singapore Army and Navy?

Why are there no Muslims in some sectors of the Singapore Army and Navy? - Quora

J Cheng: "During the communal riots, the partiality of the army was in question. There are reports of soldiers siding with the Malays. The situation was so dire that bodies of victims were painted black to prevent identification of their race. There are also stories of how soldier forced doctors to treat Malays instead of Chinese at gun point! In response, the British, confined these units to barracks and brought in the 5th Gurka Rifles from Hong Kong to patrol the streets. This restored order in Singapore and Malaya."


Terence Helikaon Nunis: "Singapore’s SAF does not discriminate against the Muslims. We have a lot of Muslims in sensitive positions. I am, myself, a Muslim convert, and I have never felt that I lacked opportunities because of my religion. The issue was Malays, for historical reasons. The real reason why there were no Malays in much of the SAF is not found in our history books. It is no longer classified, but it is a forgotten episode, just like much of the events during the period of our Separation from Malaysia and the Konfrontasi. For those interested, there are people around who lived during that period, and were there when it happened, although all of them are very old. Or, they could look through the archives, and wade through old reports.

When Singapore separated from Malaysia, the divorce was painful. In the election prior, when the PAP campaigned in Malaysia for a “Malaysian Malaysia”, instead of a “Malay Malaysia”, UMNO were outraged and played the race and religion card.

The main instigator was Syed Jaafar Albar, the so-called “Lion of UMNO”. He was a radical Malay supremacist, despite the fact that he was clearly Yemeni Arab, and not Malay. He was vehemently against Singapore’s separation from Malaysia, and resigned as secretary-general of UMNO in protest. He went as far as to advocate that Malaysia militarily occupy Singapore.

At the time of Separation, almost half of the troops based here were from Malaysia. When the British gave control of the various units to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, they neglected to consider that the units were recruited from all over the Malay Peninsula. We had Singapore-born Malays and Malaysian-born Malays in the armed forces and the police.

The 4th Malaysian Infantry Brigade consisted of two infantry regiments of about 1,000 soldiers each. Just over half of them were Malaysian, and they had divided loyalties. They were commanded by Brigadier-General Syed Mohamed Alsagoff, a relative of Syed Albar, and another Yemeni Arab. To say that he did not get along with Lee Kuan Yew is to put it mildly. He claimed it was a joke when he told Lee Kuan Yew that he could have had the PAP leaders arrested and shot. Lee Kuan Yew and his family moved out of the Istana and borrowed the Gurkha Regiment to guard them.

The Malaysian troops, all ethnic Malays, mutinied. Just over half of them supported Malaysia. One of the Singapore officers was killed. It was Col. Alkaff, BG Alsagoff’s cousin, who negotiated a withdrawal of the Malaysian troops. The 4th Malaysian Infantry Brigade withdrew from Singapore by November of 1967. The murderers of the Singapore officer were arrested. Two were hanged, and the others were only released from detention a decade or so ago.

As a consequence, Lee Kuan Yew used the Land Acquisition Act to dismantle the Alsagoff family landholdings in Singapore. Conscription was instituted, but no Malays were conscripted at first. The reconstituted Commandos, once dominated by Malays, now had none. The Singaporean Malay officers and NCOs, even though they did not mutiny, were either never promoted or were let go. This included the entire ethnic Malay cohort of officer cadets. And of course, Singapore invited a few countries to come and train our soldiers. Only Israel accepted. They stood by us when we had nothing, and we do not forget our friends.

Over the decades, that has slowly been eased. One of the reasons is because we have forged our own destiny as a nation, and there is no longer any real reason for us to doubt Singaporean Malays. This generation should no longer pay for the sins of a generation that has almost died out. Even the Malay community is ignorant of this. Another reason is that due to the low fertility, we need every Singaporean, every citizen counts. We cannot disregard qualified people simply on the lottery of birth. Now, even madrasah students have to serve National Service, which should be seen as a sign that they are trusted to serve their country.

Will we have Malay commandos? We already do. Malay fighter pilots? We have one, and I still remember that there was a huge discussion behind the scenes about whether we could trust him. Common sense prevailed. One of the reasons we do not have more Malay pilots is simply because they fail the selection test - particularly the mathematics test. We have Malays in many sensitive positions, from SIGINT to MINDEF itself. As long as you are qualified and determined enough, the SAF will take you, regardless of race or religion.

We do not have Muslims on naval vessels, but that is due to logistics, not religious discrimination. RSN’s policy is to not have vegetarians, Hindus who do not eat beef, or people who have any sort of food allergies. Our naval assets are meant to be ready for extended deployment. We do not have the luxury of stopping in the middle of a war to look for halal food. In any case, I personally do not condone this exceptionalism and religiosity."


Daniel Tan: "If it’s any comfort to you, though, the army places similar scrutiny on anyone with foreign relatives, has lived overseas for a long time or is otherwise “suspicious”. Such people are generally not allowed into sensitive divisions like Intelligence or Armour."


Weili Chiu: "During my national service, When I served as assistant manpower officer at headquarters singapore combat Engineers in 1996, I discovered that SAF has a manpower code for Muslims. It is ‘02’. ‘02’ personnel then were not allowed in the combat Engineers as it was deemed a sensitive unit. At that time, an Indian conscript declared himself a Muslim half way during a combat Engineers course. He had to be removed from the course as a result, due to his ‘02’ code. That was 1996, I am not sure if the situation is the same now."
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