Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia says Utusan Malaysia commentary has 'inaccuracies and misrepresentations'

High Commissioner Vanu Gopala Menon wrote to Utusan in response to its Aug 14 commentary titled "Berubahkah nasib kaum Melayu di Singapura? Presiden sekadar simbolik (Will the fortunes of Malay change in Singapore? President is only symbolic)".
High Commissioner Vanu Gopala Menon wrote to Utusan in response to its Aug 14 commentary titled "Berubahkah nasib kaum Melayu di Singapura? Presiden sekadar simbolik (Will the fortunes of Malay change in Singapore? President is only symbolic)". PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

KUALA LUMPUR - Singapore's envoy to Malaysia accused Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia on Thursday (Aug 17) of publishing "inaccuracies and misrepresentations" concerning Singapore's upcoming presidential election.

High Commissioner Vanu Gopala Menon wrote to Utusan in response to its Aug 14 commentary titled "Berubahkah nasib kaum Melayu di Singapura? Presiden sekadar simbolik (Will the fortunes of Malay change in Singapore? President is only symbolic)", stating that the President plays "key roles in nation-building and in ensuring good governance".

He had previously responded to a May 28 editorial to point out inaccuracies regarding next month's presidential race that has been reserved for Malay candidates.

"The Editor did not publish my letter for reasons I could not understand other than not providing a true picture to the readers. Instead, the Editor published a second commentary, with similar inaccuracies and misrepresentations of Singapore's Presidential Election and of the statements by Singapore's political office holders," he said.

Mr Menon explained that the President is the symbol and unifier of a multi-racial Singapore, the custodian of the country's reserves and protector of the integrity of the republic's public service.

The Aug 14 article penned by Ms Marzita Abdullah asserted that the role of the President of Singapore "sounds great but it is only symbolic without any political power".

"Maybe because non-Malays in Singapore are given priority and advantages in all aspects therefore the President involved did not have to struggle to consider the fate of their own race.

 

"Therefore when a Malay holds the role of President, the direction that Malays are headed will surely be given attention as that race constantly feels sidelined in their own country," it added.

In his letter, Mr Menon stressed that Malays in Singapore have "achieved significant social and economic progress within Singapore's rules-based and meritocratic society".

"It is incorrect to say that non-Malays in Singapore have been given 'priority and advantages'. We certainly do not have a race-based system of benefits and patronage," he wrote.

"Singapore will not tolerate the use of race or religion to promote ill-will between different segments of Singapore society, or to undermine our institutions."

shannont@sph.com.sg