Initiative to support Malay, Muslim residents launches in Woodlands

Parents and their children participating in an event at the SHIOK Baby Fest, part of the M³@Town programme, at Woodlands Galaxy Community Club on July 21, 2019.
Parents and their children participating in an event at the SHIOK Baby Fest, part of the M³@Town programme, at Woodlands Galaxy Community Club on July 21, 2019.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Delivery driver Khairul Kamal, 25, considers his toddler's health and well-being to be his main concern, and hopes a new initiative in his neighbourhood in Woodlands will help young parents like him be more well-informed.

M³@Town, which brings Malay/Muslim volunteers and community leaders together to support residents in areas of concern to them was launched at its eighth town islandwide on Sunday (July 21).

The three focus areas for Woodlands residents, identified after six months of outreach through house visits and community events, are: Financial and economic preparedness, health preparedness, as well as family and community wellness.

Mr Khairul, whose son is turning three, said his biggest challenge includes managing his son's health, such as knowing what food is good for the boy. "Having such a programme can help us learn more," he told The Straits Times.

M³@Town started last year and involves collaboration between the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), self-help group Mendaki and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra).

At last year's National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for more Malays to contribute to the community through M³, noting how collaboration between Malay/Muslim organisations and the Government can help to tackle challenges faced by the community.

M³@Town is also inTampines, Bedok, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Nee Soon, Jurong, Chua Chu Kang and Marsiling-Yew Tee.

Focus areas differ for each town, with the spotlight in Marsiling-Yew Tee, for example, being on marriage, parenting, and early childhood education.

Announcing the Woodlands initiative at a community event for new and prospective parents, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin noted the importance of financial preparedness, saying: "Especially given this uncertain economic climate, we want to prepare our people to ensure that (they) spend money wisely and have good jobs."

The initiative also aims to harness potential within the Malay/Muslim community given its growing number of professionals, Mr Amrin told reporters at Woodlands Galaxy Community Club.

 

"We'd like to involve them in uplifting the community," he said. The event was also attended by MPs for Sembawang GRC including Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

The 23 members of M³@Woodlands include lawyers, educators as well as various professionals, managers, executives and technicians, who will look into programmes for residents at different life stages.

Dr Noorul Fatha As'art, who is leading M³@Woodlands, said: "One of the programmes Mendaki has been working with us on teaches families how to cope with finances and appropriate financial skills."

Dr Noorul, who is chief medical officer at the Singapore Prison Service, added that this will be expanded to the rest of the GRC, noting that programmes by various organisations can be disparate and the aim now is to bring stakeholders together and avoid overlaps.