Singapore went to town last week with the announcement of the appointment, for the first time, of a Malay to head the Republic's Armed Forces.
Colonel Ishak Ismail, a career officer in the SAF, is the first Malay to achieve the rank of Brigadier General.
His promotion was described as marking a milestaone in Malays' efforts to be fully accepted in the military, a contoversial issue ever since it was disclosed in 1987 that the SAF adopted cautious approach in placing them in key positions.
Finally, the island-republic decided to emulate what Malaysia hd been doing even during the days of Malaya - that is to appoint members from the ethnic minority to key positions in the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF). This was and is being done despite the fact that the rank and file are filled by majority Malays.
The Government, has been trying with little success to encourage the participation of more non-Malays, especially the Chinese to join the armed services as a career platform.
The appointment of Ishak as a Brigadier-General or Rear-Admiral (One Star) smacks of 'tokenism", but the move has been heralded by many Singapore admirers as proof of the republic's 'colour-blind' policies as well as that of meritocracy.
Actually the song and dance that Singapore makes of the appointment of a Malay is clearly racist. It is a confession that it had discriminated against the Malays in the past. Recently, even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (who himself was commander of the SAF) had declared publicly that Singapore was not ready for a non-Chinese Prime Minister.
Now it is window dressing time.
Racists in Malaysia can already be heard shouting in the blogsphere that such an appointment would never be seen in Malaysia.
Well is it? Have they heard of Brig-Gen Baljit Singh, Brig-Gen Huang Chew Siong, Brig-Gen T.Parameswaran, Mej-Gen Gophal Ramdass, First Admiral T.Thiruchandran, Commodore T.Thanabalasingham (Malaysia's first chief of Navy) and Brig-Gen Toh Boon Fook. Then there is Mej-Gen N.Selvarah.
Major-Gen William Stevenson is currently the Army's Inspector-General.
Of course the Defence Ministry may not have tabulated the whole list of top ranking military personnel based on racial background since their participation in the MAF had never been considered a novelty or token.
Unlike in Singapore when such an appointment is made it needed to be announced to the whole world less it was not noticed.
One wonders what is the responsibility of Brig-Gen Ishak Ismail?
But, for the benefit of those with racist tendencies, this following list was tabulated from available public records between 1966 - now;
1.Brig Jen (Rtd) Arulpragasam - Commander, 6th Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
2.Brig Jen (Rtd) Chong Thean Bok - Commander, 1st Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
3.Brig Jen (Rtd) Baljit Singh - Commander, 1st Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
4.Men Jen (Rtd) Johan Hew Abdullah - General Officer Commanding, 3rd Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
5.Men Jen (Rtd) N.Selvaraja - General Officer Commanding, 4th Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
6.Men Jen (Rtd) Lai Chung Wah, Commandant, Armed Forces Defence College.
7.Brig Jen (Rtd) M.A.A Rodrigo - Commander, 12th Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
8.Brig Jen (Rtd) Hon Mun Loong - Commander, 9th Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
9.Brig Jen (Rtd) Rajban Singh Gill - Deputy General Officer Commanding, 2nd Malaysian Infantry Division.
10.Brig Jen (Rtd) Philip Lee.
11.Beig Jen (Rtd) S.Mahendran - Commander, 9th Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
12.Men Jen (Rtd) Leong Siew Meng - Commandant, Armed Forces Defence College.
13.Beig Jen (Rtd) Goh Ah Bah - Commander, 9th Malaysian Infantry Brigade.
14.Brig Jen S.Jeyabalan - Commander, 3rd Malaysian Infantry Brigade (current position).
15.Men Jen Dr. R William Stevenson - Malaysian Armed Forces Inspector General (current position).
ROYAL MALAYSIAN NAVY
1.Laksamana Muda (Rtd) Tan Sri Thanabalasingham - RMN's first Chief of Navy.
2.Laksamana Pertama (Rtd) Parvithran Krishnan.
3.Laksamana Pertama (Rtd) Malcolm W.Alvisse
4.Laksamana Pertama (Rtd) Lim Say Kiang.
5.Laksamana Pertama (Rtd) V.Ramachandran.
6.Laksamana Pertama (Rtd) T.Thiruchandran.
7.Laksamana Pertama (Rtd) Foong Soo Hoi.
8.Laksamana Pertama (Rtd) K.Arasaratnam.
9.Laksamana Pertama (Rtd) Tan See Ming.
10.Laksamana Muda (Rtd) Daniyal Balagopal Abdullah.
11.Laksamana Pertaman Tang Eng Seng - current Commandant Armed Forces Defence College.
12.Laksamana Pertama S.Gunaseelan - Chief of Staff, Fleet HQ.
ROYAL MALAYSIAN AIR FORCE
1.Men Jen (Rtd) Gophal Ramdass
2.Brig Jen (Rtd) Ansar Ali Majeth
3.Brig-Jen (Rtd) Richard C. Robless
4.Brig Jen (Rtd) Huang Chew Siong.
5.Brig Jen (Rtd) Soon Lian Cheng.
6.Brig Jen (Rtd) T.Parameswaran.
7.Brig Jen (Rtd) Samsuri Welch Abdullah
8.Brig Jen (Rtd) Toh Boon Fook.
9.Brig Jen (Rtd) Goh Seng Toh
10.Brig Jen (Rtd) Loke Kok Yee.
11.Brig Jen (Rtd) Stephen Ngiau.
12.Brig Jen (Rtd)Ranjit Singh Gill.
13.Brig Jen (Rtd)Koh Kia Lim.
14.Brig Jen (Rtd) Lau Kong Cheng.
p/s Feel free to wonder who and where the actual racists are?