I congratulate Col Ishak Ismail on being the first Malay to be made general in the SAF.
Ishak’s promotion and the forthcoming 44th National Day celebrations brings to my mind a poignant article written by a Straits Times journalist last August.
Nur Dianah Suhaimi (Feeling like the least favourite child ST- August 10, 2008) wrote about how she felt like a least favourite child on account of her race.
I know for a fact that there are enlistees from all races in the army now.
When I was younger, I always thought of myself as the quintessential Singaporean.
He is Singaporean all right, born and bred here like the rest of the boys born in 1955. He is not handicapped in any way. He did well in school and participated in sports.
So I learnt about the rigours of national service from my male cousins. They would describe in vivid detail their training regimes, the terrible food they were served and the torture inflicted upon them - most of which, I would later realise, were exaggerations.
I was later to get the exact same advice from a Malay minister in office who is a family friend.
When I started work, I realised that the advice rang true, especially because I wear my religion on my head. My professionalism suddenly became an issue. One question I was asked at a job interview was whether I would be willing to enter a nightclub to chase a story. I answered: ‘If it’s part of the job, why not? And you can rest assured I won’t be tempted to have fun.’
This makes me wonder if people also assume that all Chinese reporters are from Lianhe Zaobao and Indian reporters from Tamil Murasu.
We went on to talk about the Singapore Government’s belief that Malays here would never point a missile at their fellow Muslim neighbours in a war.
I wonder if putting up two flags is his way of making himself feel like a better-loved child of Singapore.