NDR 2021: Masagos says Govt's worried that Malays living in rental homes will become entrenched, lead to falling home ownership goals
SINGAPORE — The rising proportion of Malays living in rental homes is concerning as there is a worry that it will become an entrenched problem if these families no longer aspire to own their own home, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said on Sunday (Aug 29).
- The number of Malay households in one- and two-room HDB rental flats grew from 9,100 in 2010 to about 18,600 last year
- Mr Masagos Zulkifli said this is a concern as the problem can become entrenched with rental flats being so cheap
- They “must aspire to own homes” — a goal every Singaporean should have and should not give up on, he said
- Dr Maliki Osman said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s remark that it is “entirely baseless” to claim that Chinese privilege exists in Singapore must be taken in context
SINGAPORE — The rising proportion of Malays living in rental homes is a concern because there is a worry that it will become an entrenched problem if these families no longer aspire to own their own home, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, said on Sunday (Aug 29).
Speaking to the media after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered a National Day Rally speech that touched on multiple issues relating to race and religion, Mr Masagos said: “Rental homes are quite cheap and very affordable.
“And if they get used to it and they don’t aspire to move into owning homes, then we are worried that we will have a generation who might be entrenched in living in rental homes.”
Mr Masagos added that the authorities are working to reach out to these members of the Malay community to pass on the message that they “must aspire to own homes, because this is an asset that every Singaporean should have and should not give up on”.
Mr Lee had, in his Malay speech, said that there are still some “worrying trends” among the Malay community here, particularly in the areas of home ownership and education.
Mr Lee referred to the latest national census in 2020, which showed that the number of Malay households in one- and two-room Housing and Development Board (HDB) rental flats grew from about 9,100 in 2010 to about 18,600 last year.
Pointing out that the statistic coincided with a drop in the number of persons per household, Mr Masagos gave his analysis, saying that the issue came about largely because HDB had provided more rental flats to help with overcrowding in Malay homes.
However, young couples who have not properly prepared themselves to own a home ended up moving into these rental flats.
The problem can deteriorate as “on a short-term basis, it is much cheaper than putting deposits or paying mortgage for their own home”, he said.
Turning to the topic of education, Mr Masagos stressed the need for Malays to maintain “quality participation” in education so that they have marketable skills and can take up quality jobs.
“Maybe 30 years ago, poor educational outcomes meant dropouts. Today, it is not about dropouts. It is about quality participation and ensuring that we participate and are able, at the end of the education journey, to get or participate in the opportunities that are available to all Singaporeans.”
Without quality participation, they “may end up with qualifications that may not be demanded by the market, or skills that may not be up to the level of respect, dignity or pay that you should get because you did not participate in the quality that is expected of you”, he added.
One of Mr Lee’s announcements was the decision to allow Muslim staff members working in the public healthcare sector, including nurses, to wear a tudung, or headscarf, at work from Nov 1, if they choose to do so.
Asked by a reporter what could be done to curb social pressure on those who decide not to don a tudung despite being given the allowance, Mr Masagos said that even though tudung-wearing will be allowed, it does not mean that Muslim women should feel pressured to wear it.
The women should not be judged outside of what they do as part of their professional duties, he added, pointing out that there should be respect for each others’ beliefs.
For those who feel pressured to wear a tudung, he said that there will be avenues within their organisation in the hospital to be able to be counselled or to seek support for their stand.
ON CHINESE PRIVILEGE
In a separate media engagement on Sunday night, Dr Maliki Osman, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, was asked to respond to Mr Lee’s remark that it is “entirely baseless” to claim that Chinese privilege exists in Singapore — a statement that has drawn some reactions online.
Dr Maliki said that Mr Lee’s words should be taken in context.
Mr Lee had taken a lot of time in his speech to acknowledge that minorities in Singapore and abroad continue to face challenges, given that there will always be differences between what the majority and the minority gets, Dr Maliki noted.
In saying that it is baseless to claim that Chinese privilege exists here, he said that Mr Lee was speaking in the context that everyone has made sacrifices to allow racial harmony to continue to prevail.
In that light, it is important to see that everyone has gotten his fair share of challenges, Dr Maliki added.
“Giving and taking is real. It is not something that is trivial. When you have to give up the language, for example, and when you have to give up certain aspects of your cultural existence, these are very important sacrifices that each of us make.”
Dr Maliki then said that the Malay-Muslim community should also bear it in mind that they have received their own set of privileges as well.
There were, for instance, provisions in making Malay the national language, and establishing the Administration of Muslim Law Act to form the Syariah Court and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.
“So I think let's be fair to all communities. In the spirit of building a strong and cohesive society, there is give-and-take,” he said.