ESM Goh appreciates Malay/Muslim support

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong posing for a group photo with Malay diners during his visit to a halal coffee shop in Aljunied GRC yesterday, the last day of campaigning for GE2015.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong posing for a group photo with Malay diners during his visit to a halal coffee shop in Aljunied GRC yesterday, the last day of campaigning for GE2015.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong paid a special visit yesterday to Aljunied GRC's Kaki Bukit ward which has a higher-than-average number of Malay residents.

He said he wanted to show his appreciation "by coming here and getting to know the Muslims over here" as the Malay community had given him its support in the 1991, 1997 and 2001 elections when he was prime minister.

The issue of Malay support has arisen in recent years after the Workers' Party wrested the GRC from the People's Action Party.

The support from the Muslim community had played a big part in the harmony he achieved in Singapore's multiracial society, ESM Goh said. He urged the GRC's residents to think hard of the harmonious state of Singapore's multiracial society when they vote tomorrow. "The question to ask is: Will there be a multiracial, harmonious society 10 years down the road if there's a sudden change in political system?" he said.

Mr Goh was speaking to reporters after his visit to a halal coffee shop in Bedok North Street 3 to "get a good sense of the mood of the Malay/Muslim community" in Kaki Bukit ward.

The Muslim community, he said, is an important pillar of Singapore's multiracial society. "When I was prime minister, I found them to be very supportive, and it was because of this support that I was able to get a harmonious Singapore."

He added: "If the Malay/Muslims had withdrawn their support then, it would have been much more difficult to build a stable, cohesive, harmonious society. "

When asked if the Malay/Muslim community's demands have changed since he was prime minister, Mr Goh said: "Every community has its own issues. The Malay community has theirs but the key is whether they make good progress along with other communities, and the answer is, yes... They have some extra challenges and those would have to be addressed by us."

One of the PAP's candidates for the five-member Aljunied GRC, former teacher Shamsul Kamar, said response from the area's Muslims has been positive.

"They are interested in how we can support them better, and, for some elderly, how they can get financial aid.''

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'ESM Goh appreciates Malay/Muslim support'. Print Edition | Subscribe