THE Straits Times should be more mindful of using terms terms like "Malay Muslims" in articles like, "Time for bonding and forgiving" on July 18. Such terms in such articles have the tendency to incite racial tension. Hari Raya Puasa (or Eid) is celebrated by Muslims all over the world. It marks the end of the fasting month. Regardless if the Muslim is Malay Muslim, Pakistani Muslim, Indian Muslim or even Indonesian Muslim, Hari Raya Puasa is celebrated by all Muslims in Singapore. It marks an important milestone at the end of the fasting period.
Mentioning Malay Muslims focuses on one particular group (Malays) instead of the entire Muslim community in Singapore. All Muslims (despite their race) in Singapore have worked together to build good relationships with individuals from other religious groups. And we all live in harmony despite our various beliefs.
This recalls The Straits Times dubbing the disturbance two years ago as "The Little India Riot in Singapore" instead of "Riot In Singapore". It seems to suggest that the riot was "Indian" and not Singaporean. Choice of words, for the state media is very important.
Furthermore, the July 15 edition of The Straits Times, "Fight for our Nation", had an article that described the racial riots in 1950 which happened due to the Maria Hertogh issue, which read, in part: "But it (The Straits Times) also got an indelible reminder that reporting responsibly in a multicultural society meant being aware of racial or religious tensions that can be invisible until they ignite".
By using terms like Malay Muslims The Straits Times is actually playing on the race issue. Why could we not just use terms like Muslims instead of Malay Muslims? I am not Muslim neither am I Malay but I see us all as Singaporeans. It's important we are are united regardless of race, language or religion.
WITH respect, we disagree that using such a term disrespects other Muslims or, implies that we may, with the analogy of the Maria Hertogh riots, incite religious havoc. In fact, the article in question began with an inclusive phrase "Muslims around Singapore...". We are mindful of our secular, multi-ethnic and multi-religious compact and we believe that is one reason we are a pro-Singapore daily. As for the writer's view that we shouldn't be reductionist in reporting a global Islamic celebration by using the term "Malay Muslims", we respectfully disagree as well. In fact, using local terms like "Malay Muslims" and "Hari Raya Aidilfitri" is precisely how we believe we should report the event as a Singapore newspaper read largely by Singaporeans. While the term "Malay Muslims" may not resonate as much elsewhere, it does so here because the Malay community is Singapore's bedrock Muslim community. According them the space and respect they deserve does not marginalise other Muslim communities. In fact, ignoring this Singaporean reality would be inaccurate and unfair to a major component community on their most important annual religious and cultural observance.