“The Malayalees are a small but significant part of the Singapore Indian community. Former President Devan Nair, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon are some outstanding Malayalees who have left a mark on Singapore,” asserted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong while speaking on the occasion of 100th anniversary of the Singapore Malayalee Association.
Praising the diversity of the Malayalee community, PM Lee said, “The Malayalees have long embraced and celebrated diversity. Counting Hindus, Muslims, Syrian Christians, and Roman Catholics in their midst, they are a fine example of turning diversity into strength.”
He added, “The Malayalee community has shown how Singapore can turn diversity into its strength. One of the reasons behind the Malayalee community's success is its embracing of diversity. Singapore needs to do the same on a national level, with our different races and religions.”
Reiterating commitment for multi-culturalism in Singapore and expressing concern on the problem of extremism in several countries, PM Lee said, “In many countries, exclusivity and extremism are growing, and breeding racial and religious distrust. Singapore is not immune to these diseases of the spirit. But we can protect and strengthen our multicultural system to make our society more resilient against such external pressures.”
While small in size – there are just 26, Malayalees in Singapore – the community has contributed significantly to Singapore’s development, Lee said.
There are also three Malayalees in Parliament currently: Senior Minister of State Janil Puthucheary, and MPs Vikram Nair and Murali Pillai.
In a Facebook post, PM Lee congratulated the Singapore Malayalee Association for completing its centenary in the country and said, “Over the years, the Singapore Malayalee Association has helped to uplift the community, and to enrich and strengthen our social fabric. My congratulations to the Association on its centenary!”
The Singapore Malayalee Association has also set up a SGD1 million financial aid fund for needy students as well as a wellness centre for the elderly to mark its centenary.
The Association also paid tribute to other outstanding members of its community, including poet and social activist M K Bhasi, dance pioneer Santha Bhaskar and ambassador Gopinath Pillai, who is senior adviser of the association and chairman of the Indian Heritage Centre.
Since the formation of the Association in 1917, it has helped look after the welfare of thousands of Malayalees who travelled from Kerala.
PM Lee concluded, “Your story is an important strand in our historical and cultural tapestry.”