SINGAPORE - Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli has urged more successful members of the Malay/Muslim community to volunteer in order to contribute to the community.
This should involve not just professionals providing assistance in their areas of expertise – such as lawyers providing legal advice – but also talking to residents to get a better understanding of the issues they face, said Mr Masagos, who is also Social and Family Development Minister.
The M3 platform – a tie-up between self-help group Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the People’s Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council – has given many an opportunity to give back, he said.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence Zaqy Mohamad noted that the past two years have seen the number of volunteers across the three M3 agencies swell to 3,000.
“There are so many of us who are now successful,” said Mr Masagos.
Mendaki’s publication Singapore Malay/Muslim Community In Figures, using data from Census 2020, showed that while only 2.6 per cent of the Malay population had a monthly household income of $15,000 or more in 2010, this number had increased to 8.5 per cent in 2020.
“More than just being successful yourself, I am calling the community to come forward and give back to society,” Mr Masagos said, adding that a shared cultural and religious background would encourage others to work towards success as well.
“One of the interesting things that I also discovered from our conversations with them is that they don’t realise how fulfilling it is to actually participate and give back,” he said.
Mr Masagos and other Malay/Muslim political office holders were speaking to the media on Jan 6, as part of an update on various M3 initiatives.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Law Rahayu Mahzam noted that in 2022, Mendaki’s Youth Mentoring Office – formed in 2019 to spearhead mentoring efforts in the Malay/Muslim community – trained and deployed more than 300 mentors, matching them with more than 1,600 mentees.
Since 2019, the office has trained and deployed more than 1,300 mentors, benefiting more than 4,250 young people.
“What we’re hoping to create with this ecosystem is young people who are mentored by slightly older youth who are then mentored by slightly older seniors, and hopefully these young people will grow up and then continue mentoring,” said Ms Rahayu.
The Youth Mentoring Office is also leveraging Mentoring SG – a national initiative to encourage a culture of mentoring – to launch a campaign in the first quarter of 2023 to encourage more young people and young professionals to sign up as mentors for programmes such as Mara Mentoring, where undergraduates are guided by professionals in industries such as technology and finance.
In the areas of employment and employability, South East District Mayor Fahmi Aliman said that in 2022, an initiative was launched to get Malay/Muslim union leaders to visit the homes of vulnerable workers and job seekers in M3 towns, which include Bedok, Choa Chu Kang and Jurong.
Union leaders, with their unique experience in specific industries, can encourage workers to pursue opportunities in sectors that they are interested in, said Mr Fahmi, who is also director of operations and mobilisation with the National Trades Union Congress.
In 2022, they reached out to almost 2,000 Malay/Muslim workers, providing them with career advice and guidance.
Moving forward, the vision for Malay/Muslims in Singapore is for them to become a community of excellence, said Mr Masagos, adding that this includes giving those who have succeeded a platform to give back.
This would allow the community to become a model for other communities in Singapore and around the world, he said.
“This is what makes a community a good one, an exemplary community, not one where those who have already succeeded abandon those who are in need, but rather one where those who have succeeded help those in need.”