Changes in Malay/Muslim community leadership

The leadership and management of Malay/Muslim organisations will now be split up between several political office-holders.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, speaking on the sidelines of a virtual dialogue session yesterday, said the decision to divvy up responsibilities was made with the endorsement of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Under the new arrangement, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad will oversee Mendaki, and Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam will lead the development of the Malay Heritage Centre.

Speaking to the media at Wisma Geylang Serai, Mr Masagos, Minister for Social and Family Development, said: "I'm very proud of my Malay/ Muslim colleagues who are office-holders. All of us are given many fields of responsibilities, including education, health, social development, internal security, defence...

"At the same time, many of them are also holding very senior positions and, therefore, they are more than capable of sharing the responsibilities that traditionally the Minister for Muslim Affairs holds."

Mr Masagos earlier took part in a dialogue with more than 170 activists from Malay/Muslim organisations. It was the first of three virtual dialogue sessions organised by M3 to discuss key themes in President Halimah Yacob's address at the opening of the 14th Parliament.

Mr Masagos said he will continue to oversee the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and develop the religious sector, which is necessary for social harmony and providing guidance to the Malay/ Muslim community.

He also highlighted the need for religious guidance to be relevant to Singapore's context.

Dr Maliki Osman, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Education and Foreign Affairs, will be adviser to the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (PA Mesra), the PA arm that focuses on the Malay community.

At the same time, he will oversee the M3 programme - a tie-up between Mendaki, Muis and PA Mesra - which is now running in eight towns. He will also be in charge of Geylang Serai's revitalisation.

Said Mr Masagos: "For Dr Maliki, he's an old hand. He has been in politics longer than me, and I always consult him on many issues."


Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Faishal Ibrahim will oversee Wisma Geylang Serai, which Mr Masagos called "the nerve centre of our heritage, as well as the commercial node and nexus where Malay/Muslims go to, especially during Hari Raya".

Ms Rahayu will be adviser to the Malay Heritage Centre, while Mayor of South East District Fahmi Aliman will lead the formation of a new M3 initiative in Geylang Serai.

Said Mr Masagos: "I have given them clear directions on where each of them should be heading, and how we all align. But I also hope that they will innovate and be creative in implementing the solutions or the problem-solving work that they need to do."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2020, with the headline 'Changes in Malay/Muslim community leadership'. Subscribe