Parliament: Community groups band together to help displaced Malay/Muslim workers

Industries like the food and beverage, wedding and catering industries have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 situation and the disruptions caused by it. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - Malay/Muslim workers who have lost their jobs or seen a drop in income amid the Covid-19 pandemic can get support from a network of community organisations, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad told Parliament on Tuesday (April 7).

The M3 network has hosted two virtual career fairs and received over 700 job applications, and continuing education and training provider Mendaki Sense is facilitating job placements, he said.

Mendaki Sense has launched a dedicated hotline and an app, CariKerja, for jobseekers, and will continue to share information on available jobs - such as those under the SGUnited Jobs Initiative - with the community. It is also working with government agencies to link jobseekers with companies looking to fill vacancies created by Covid-19.

Malay/Muslim businesses struggling in the present climate will also be helped. The Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI) has also set up a task force and hotline for members to address their concerns, and assist them in seeking help.

These support schemes are among the measures drawn up by a recently formed community task force, called SGTeguhBersatu (Malay for SG Resilient in Unity), which is looking at how displaced workers and affected businesses can make full use of the schemes in this year's Budget.

The 19-member task force, convened by Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, is supported by Malay/Muslim MPs and includes representatives from self-help group Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and People's Association's Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.

Mr Zaqy added that the task force will also come up with ways to train workers so that they can seize opportunities once the economy recovers.

Industries like the food and beverage, wedding and catering industries have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 situation and the disruptions caused by it.

These include the ongoing circuit breaker measures that have disallowed non-essential outings, closed most workplaces and stopped large gatherings.

"The temporary closure of most work places, except for essential services and key economic sectors,takes effect today. It will impact our workers and businesses," he said. "We stand in solidarity with workers and businesses, and will get through this together."

Senior Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim also told Parliament on Tuesday that more support will be available for students from the community.

This help, which will be targeted for those from lower-income families, will help to ensure that their studies are not disrupted by the pandemic.

Applications for Mendaki's Tertiary Tuition Fee Subsidy (TTFS), which covers school fees of eligible students, and its interest-free study loan will be reopened to consider applicants whose family income might have been affected.

Associate Professor Faishal said: "Although we are working hard to stop the spread of Covid-19, we must ensure that our children's education is not affected.

"This is important, especially for students from low-income families who may now feel more pressure due to their family's financial problems.".

He added that Mendaki will be providing financial assistance to ITE students who have lost their part-time jobs due to Covid-19, and to eligible students who are mentors in the Empowerment Program for ITE students, to defray cost-of-living expenses.

Couples planning to get married whose plans have been disrupted due to Covid-19, including safe distancing measures, will also get help. Assoc Prof Faishal said that the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) will be waiving the fee couples have to pay to change their solemnisation dates, adding that 49 couples have done so last month.

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