Op-Ed : Doubts about presidential hopefuls not being Malay enough are off track | Straits Times (Singapore) |

Mr Zakir Hussain, 36 – Political Editor.

Businessmen Salleh Marican  and Farid Khan, and  Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob

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Singapore’s Malay community has long held an expansive view of race, a stand that reflects its confidence
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The coming presidential election is the first to be reserved for candidates from the Malay community, following changes to the Constitution to ensure the highest office of the land reflects Singapore’s multiracial society.

Yet there has been some contention on social media over the “Malayness” of would-be candidates, with some asking whether any of the aspirants who have stepped up or are mulling over a bid is “truly Malay”.

It is as if the very nature of this year’s contest has misdirected energies towards securing the “most authentic” candidate instead of a Malay candidate who would make the best head of state.

Ironically, all three hopefuls – businessmen Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, and Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob – have been acknowledged by the community, peers and the media as prominent Malay individuals.

They speak Malay, follow Malay customs and are, to some extent, role models for the community in business and public service. Why, then, has the question of whether they are “pure Malays” or “Malay enough” cropped up when it comes to the presidential election?

Media attention on them may have played a part. Businessman Mohamed Salleh Marican, whose father is Indian, has been criticised for not being fluent in Malay, after his fumbling during a Facebook Live interview conducted outside the Elections Department where he had gone to collect the forms for the elected presidency contest.

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