Title

Racial politics and imperatives and the constitutional special position of the indigenous Malays in a new society: Asserting interests and the non-contestation of rights in Singapore’s communitarian constitutionalism

Publication Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

1-2017

Abstract

Thischapter comprises three sections. In the first section, I examine how Article152 of the Singapore Constitution recognizes the Malays as Singapore’sindigenous people. This constitutional recognition, however, did not and hasnot resulted in the provision of special rights to the Malay-Singaporeans byvirtue of their race, language, and religion. There is no affirmative actionpolicy in favor of the Malays or any minorities. Concessions or benefits to anyracial group, when provided, are carefully couched to avoid any sense ofentitlement or legal rights. This is elaborated in the second section, whichexplores two significant policies, namely the Group Representation Constituencyand the free tertiary education benefit, that give effect to protecting theinterests of the Malays. In the third section, I examine the institution ofNational Service in Singapore as a contested expression of equal citizenshipvis-à-vis the Malay community, and where the interests of the state predominateover the rights of the individual and the concerns of the community. Focusingon the significant Malay-Singaporean minority, I argue that the consciousavoidance of a rights-based legal regime in the management of ethnic issues inSingapore has removed a significant element of contestation and depoliticized,to a large extent, the postcolonial nation-building project. Central to this isthe constitutional and political approach toward the special position of theMalays. The constitution, laws, and policies have structured and moderated the expectationsof the majority and minority communities with regard to their rights,interests, and power.

Discipline

Asian Studies | Law and Race | Law and Society | Race and Ethnicity

Publication

Politics and constitutions in Southeast Asia

Editor

Marco Bünte & Björn Dressel

First Page

226

Last Page

248

ISBN

9781138847545

Identifier

10.4324/9781315726687

Publisher

Routledge

City or Country

London

Additional URL

https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315726687

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