Support network for those in need in Malay/Muslim community

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 yesterday.

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 job seekers 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 job seekers with companies looking to fill vacancies created by the spread of the coronavirus.

Malay/Muslim businesses struggling in the present climate will also be assisted. 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 to assist those seeking help.

These support schemes were 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 Government's initiatives to assist businesses and workers 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 said the task force will also come up with ways to train workers so they can seize opportunities once the economy recovers.

"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. We stand in solidarity with workers and businesses, and will get through this together," he said.

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

 
 
 

Students from lower-income families will be assisted, 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 applicants whose family income might have been affected.

Dr 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 the spread of the coronavirus and the measures taken to contain it, as well as to eligible students who are mentors in the Empowerment Programmes for ITE students, whose cost-of-living expenses it aims to cover.

Couples whose wedding plans have been disrupted by safe distancing measures intended to contain the spread of the virus will also get help. Dr 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2020, with the headline 'Support network for those in need in Malay/Muslim community'. Subscribe