berthahenson

Paralysed by the PM (Part 3)

In News Reports, Politics, Writing on July 1, 2012 at 6:55 am

I tell you…sometimes I think the ST is trying to make sure that readers do NOT read any stories that have the PM in it. How else can one explain the page-turning headlines like today’s Malay Muslims have done well: PM. Did we expect him to say that they haven’t? If he did, that’s news! What’s happening here? An attempt to make the Malay Muslims feel good? Taking the safest angle ever? If he released even more statistics on community improvement, that would have backed up the headline better. Please let me stress that I am not talking about whether the Malay Muslims have done well or not. They have. I am glad. And we’ve heard this many times before.This rant is about whether the PM said anything else that would make readers think more about the role of ethnic groups.

To me, there are two points in his speech that could have been headlined to get more readers on board:

1) How self-help groups should be careful when they move into civic causes, lest they lose their raison detre. Plus, they better remember they get money from the Government for very specific purposes related to their set-up. I wish there was more context to this. What is the Association of Muslim Professionals hoping to do that is prompting PM to make this statement? So far,the report talks about the AMP hoping to reposition Malay-Muslim organisations to take on a “national, inter-ethnic and issue-driven agenda”, but what does this translate into?

2) How communities shouldn’t try to compare itself with others but look at improvements from within. It’s a message that’s been reiterated but it might just be time to ask why. What exactly was the AMP comparing? The reports had Malay median income lagging behind others (no statistics reported though) and graduate numbers. So the community shouldn’t try to achieve some parity with others? Not a worthy enough goal? Or a goal that would be too difficult to reach and cause disappointment? Or plain divisive?

PM also had this point: About how “we try very hard not to debate national issues along ethnic lines”‘. I wonder if this point contradicts Point No. 1. Maybe not. But wading through the text and thinking it through, seems to me the PM is simply telling AMP to keep to its community social aims and not get too ambitious – like aiming for one grad per family. It looks like a warning not to move into political territory which I suppose might well prompt responses from other ethnic groups. Who knows what would happen then? All this gives me a kind of dejavu feeling. Seems not too long ago that a similar message was relayed to AMP. The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.

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