Rising tension over aid for Malays in Singapore

Tun Razak accuses PAP government of being uncooperative but Singapore says allegation is unfounded

Malaysia's Tun Abdul Razak said that Singapore is opposed to the central government.
Malaysia's Tun Abdul Razak said that Singapore is opposed to the central government. ST FILE PHOTO

Tensions between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur continued to rise, as yet another war of words broke out in the media, this time over aid for Malays in Singapore.

On a visit to the Southern Islands populated mainly by Malays on July 25, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak blamed the Singapore leaders' "uncooperative spirit" for making it hard for the central government to extend rural aid to Malays in Singapore.

"The central government's rural development programme, which aims at the uplift of the Malays, does not embrace Singapore because of the lack of cooperation of the PAP (People's Action Party) government," he said.

"The Singapore government is opposed to the central government."

Large crowds of Malays had turned up to greet him on his first tour of the islands.

The Singapore government hit back in a statement, saying Tun Razak's comments insinuated that it was preventing the central government from helping the Malays in Singapore.

Singapore denied this allegation, calling it "as unfounded as it was designed to increase communal suspicions". It said Singapore welcomed any development plan that the central government in Kuala Lumpur wished to carry out to improve the conditions of the Malays or any other community in Singapore.

It noted, however, that apart from a proposal to buy up the Alsagoff estate in Geylang Serai, there had been no other plans for the Malays or others by the government in Kuala Lumpur.

"We know of no development projects planned by the central government for the Southern Islands," the Singapore government said.

Singapore also called on Kuala Lumpur to extend financial compensation to Singapore fishermen who have been affected by curfews imposed as a result of tensions with Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Singapore Labour Minister Jek Yeun Thong hit out at the central government for taking a series of measures attempting to "crush" Singapore.

Speaking at a PAP constituency dinner, the minister said that these measures included a ban on exports to South Africa, the closure of the Bank of China branch in Singapore and an attempt to increase Singapore's contribution rate to the federal reserve.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2015, with the headline Rising tension over aid for Malays in Singapore. Subscribe