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So long as a person identifies as Malay and is generally accepted as such by the community, his Malayness should not be questioned.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Doubts about presidential hopefuls not being Malay enough are off track'.
However, concern over ensuring enough Malays will be represented in key institutions - Parliament, and more recently, the Presidency - meant there was a need to define who is a Malay in Singapore's context.
A similar approach has been adopted for aspiring candidates for the presidential election in the latest round of changes to the law.
Singapore's Malay community has long held an expansive view of race - and been open to newcomers and others keen to identify with it.
It is a signal of confidence and courage - and nothing could be further from that than questioning whether someone who identifies as Malay and is accepted as Malay is "pure Malay" or "Malay enough".
It rejected calls to expand the definition to non-Malay Muslims and have Islam as a marker of Malayness.
Instead, it chose not to explicitly define the races, languages or religious minorities in Singapore, in the hopes of a "united, multiracial multicultural society".