Several candidates bring up Malay issues

National Solidarity Party's assistant treasurer Nor Lella Mardiiiah Mohamed (right) at the Elections Department on Aug 26, 2015.
National Solidarity Party's assistant treasurer Nor Lella Mardiiiah Mohamed (right) at the Elections Department on Aug 26, 2015. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Malay issues surfaced at several opposition rallies last night as candidates proposed initiatives such as an education fund, and called for madrasah teachers to be paid better.

Speaking in Malay, Ms Nor Lella Mardiiiah Mohamed, the National Solidarity Party's candidate for Tampines GRC, said: "The Pledge says regardless of race, language or religion. So why should my religion be an issue? Why should my tudung be a problem?"

She added that, if elected, the NSP would contribute their allowances as MPs to an education fund for needy Malay students.

This was repeated by NSP president Sebastian Teo, also a Tampines GRC candidate, who said education was the crux of the problem facing needy Malay families.

He also promised to address the issue of rising prices for motorcycle Certificates of Entitlement, if elected, saying it affected the Malay community as many who required motorcycles for work would not be able to afford them.

The NSP's Sembawang GRC candidate Yadzeth Hairis called for madrasah teachers to be paid the same as their counterparts in government schools, in a speech delivered at an open field opposite Temasek Polytechnic.

At the Singapore People's Party rally at the former Hong Kah Primary School at Bukit Batok, a candidate in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Mr Hamim Aliyas, addressed the issue of Malay representation in the armed forces.

"I will fight for equal opportunities for citizens in all public services, including the police and armed forces" said Mr Hamim.

Mr Fahmi Rais, a candidate for Singaporeans First in Tanjong Pagar GRC, also touched on the issue of the wearing of tudungs not being allowed in uniformed service and other sectors.

Speaking at Queenstown Stadium, he said female Muslim police officers and hospital staff were allowed to wear it in other countries but not in Singapore.

Dr Chee Soon Juan, chief of the Singapore Democratic Party, said at his party's rally at an open field opposite Commonwealth MRT station that he had never identified people by race before joining politics, when he discovered that Indians and Malays needed a certificate to prove their race.

"Do you know how offensive that is? " said Dr Chee, a candidate in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

•Additional reporting by Amir Hussain

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 06, 2015, with the headline 'Several candidates bring up Malay issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe