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Cablegate: Singapore's Malay Muslims: Social Problems Persist

VZCZCXRO3554
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGP #1687 2540651
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110651Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3974
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1958
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0751

UNCLAS SINGAPORE 001687

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI PHUM KISL SN
SUBJECT: SINGAPORE'S MALAY MUSLIMS: SOCIAL PROBLEMS PERSIST
DESPITE EDUCATIONAL GAINS

REF: 04 SINGAPORE 1816

1. (U) Singapore's Malay Muslims have undergone a "dramatic
transformation" in the last twenty-five years, asserted Prime
Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a September 2 speech. But he
also called on the community to "muster a major effort" to
address the needs of dysfunctional families. He emphasized
that action must come from within the community and urged the
historically competitive Malay Muslim self-help organizations
to work together to complement each other's efforts.

2. (U) Two days later, the GOS released a report showing that
Malay Muslims have made enormous strides since 1982 in
educational levels. Thirty-four percent of Malay Muslims now
receive some sort of tertiary education, up from only 1.3
percent in 1982. However, other negative social indicators
continue to climb, including the divorce rate, the number of
single parent homes, and the number of unwed mothers. Even
where Malay Muslims have shown gains, their ethnic Chinese
and Indian counterparts in Singapore have progressed just as
quickly, so a gap remains.

3. (SBU) The local press has run a series of articles and
editorials supporting PM Lee's points by quoting Malay Muslim
community leaders. The community leaders point to the
educational gains, while recognizing the need for more
improvement in this area, and call for culturally sensitive,
community-based measures to help dysfunctional families.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim says he
will undertake a review of existing community programs to see
where more help is needed.

4. (SBU) Other Malay Muslim community leaders see the speech
and report as just more rhetoric. The chairman of the
Association of Muslim Professionals (which has been mildly
critical of the GOS) criticized the speech for not breaking
any new ground. A former policy analyst for another group
told us she quit in July because she was disheartened by the
community's lack of progress outside of education despite all
the efforts by the self-help organizations.

Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/singapore/ind ex.cfm
HERBOLD

Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/singapore/ind ex.cfm
HERBOLD

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