Ever since his latest book, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, came out, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and the People’s Action Party (PAP) has had to deal with irate Muslims who took offence at his remarks that Malay-Muslims are in Singapore are “distinct and separate”.
Since then, various PAP politicians had tried to put out the fire but to no avail. With a General Election (GE) coming up, I guess the PAP finally decided that enough is enough. Explaining that he made the remarks 2-3 years ago, MM Lee Kuan Yew now says he “stands corrected” on the issue as the Malay community has made special efforts to integrate with other communities in that time.
Now I know Muslim groups wanted an apology from the MM over the comments but this is Singapore and the PAP is famous for not admitting mistakes. This is as good as you are going to get. In a way, the MM is backing down…sort of.
However, I’m afraid it’s too late. Doing it now with a GE coming up…let’s just say the image of the MM over the Malay community is now set.
Frankly I don’t blame the MM on this. A man has the right to his view and he had done so much for Singapore, he has the right to say what he wants. However the PAP could and should have done better to handle the fallout of the comments. The PAP should have made the MM do this when the book first came out. If the MM had this “stands corrected” stance immediately after the protests from the Muslims groups, this would have been a non-issue. The MM is so respected that people would have just let it go, but doing it now is a matter of it being too late due to the timing of the GE.
This will help dampen the reactions from the Muslim community but it won’t stop it. The timing is bad, it is months too late.