If the PM’s promise to make Zainul Abidin the next parliamentary speaker was meant to get the Malays in Aljunied GRC to vote for the PAP, it may backfire.
If Zainul, a candidate in Aljunied, gets re-elected and is then made speaker, then the Malays are likely to reason it is likely that the next president will not be a Malay. Not having a Malay president would displease the Malay community. The community believes that it is about time that the presidency is given to a Malay. Since independence, S’pore has had as President one Malay, two Indians, two Chinese and one Eurasian. Surely it must be the turn of a Malay is the reasoning.
Well by saying that he wants the next speaker, like the present speaker, to be a Malay, is the PM signaling that the next president will not be a Malay? Given the racial mix, the offices of state have to spread out among the races.
So rather than a vote winner, the promise may get the Malays thinking that the stated public concerns by the government about the loyalty of Malays to S’pore is depriving the Malays of getting a Malay president now that the president has more than ceremonial duties. They may even go further and recall that the speaker’s job is largely ceremonial unless the Opposition wins 30-40 seats in the coming GE, an unlikely scenario.
If the PM was trying to play the “racial” card by making this promise, it would be ironical if the promise makes the Malays think long and hard about their role in a country ruled by the PAP.