SINGAPORE, 26 June 2009: The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will create history on 1 July by having a Malay general.
Colonel Ishak Ismail, 46, a senior Malay officer who has served for 28 years in the SAF, is being promoted to brigadier general, local media reported today.
He was one of the five SAF colonels — the other four non-Malays — who received their appointment letters as brigadier generals and a first admiral during a function at the Defence Ministry yesterday.
Singapore has been criticised by various parties, especially the Malay leaders and communities in and outside the island republic, including Malaysia, for seemingly practising a policy of not giving Malay SAF personnel opportunities to rise to the highest ranks due to concern over their loyalty.
Col Ishak, who has been SAF Sixth Division Commander since August 2008, is among 464 SAF full-time National Service officers promoted this year.
“If this promotion is seen as something that can inspire others, it would also indirectly motivate them to work hard and achieve excellence every time,” he was quoted by Berita Harian Singapura as saying.
Member of Parliament Zaqy Mohamad was quoted by Today newspaper as saying that Col Ishak’s achievement was a milestone for the Malay community in Singapore.
“It’s been talked about that you don’t see Malays serving in the upper echelons of the SAF. Now you’ve got one, so it dispels some talk,” said Zaqy, who added that Col Ishak’s promotion would pave the way for more capable candidates in time.
“I hope it’s not seen as a token appointment,” he said. — Bernama