Quality of life of Singapore Malay/Muslims has 'improved tremendously' over last 50 years: Yaacob

Minister for Communications & Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim (above) was responding to recent comments by Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and ex-minister Zaid Ibrahim.
Minister for Communications & Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim (above) was responding to recent comments by Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and ex-minister Zaid Ibrahim. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

SINGAPORE - The quality of life and the standard of living of the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore have "improved tremendously" compared to 50 years ago, said Minister for Communications & Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.

"Malays are now home owners, we have a better-educated population, wealth has been increasing in the Malay/Muslim community," he told reporters at the sidelines of a Mendaki event on Friday morning.

"So by and large I think the state of affairs of the Malay/Muslim community here is quite good," he added.

Mr Yaacob was responding to recent comments by Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and ex-minister Zaid Ibrahim, who had clashed over whether Singaporean Malays were better or worse off than Malaysian Malays.

Dr Mahathir had said last weekend that the leadership of current Malaysian premier Najib Razak would cause the Malays in Malaysia to become marginalised, as he claimed those in Singapore were.

In response, Mr Zaid had said he would be happy if the Malays in Malaysia became like Singaporean Malays, adding that "Singaporean Malays reap the benefits of the modern advanced economy that is Singapore and are encouraged by political leaders to develop themselves".

In his remarks on Friday, Mr Yaacob said he accepts Mr Zaid's comments, calling them Mr Zaid's "own analysis".

He added that the most important thing for him and the Malay/Muslim community is to be thankful for what they have in Singapore now, compared to 50 years before.

While the group still faces challenges that need to be tackled, the key is in moving forward as a community and as "a member of the Singaporean family", Mr Yaacob added.

"We preseve what we have, we maintain the standards that we have lived by - meritocracy, corruption-free and so on - to ensure that the succeeding generation can also enjoy a higher quality of life for themselves and their children," he said.