SINGAPORE - The Malay-Muslim community has made good social progress, but for it to continue to be successful, it needs a vibrant next generation, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.
He pointed out that the total fertility rate of the Malay community has dipped even further from 1.85 in 2018 to 1.80 in 2019, which is well below the replacement rate of 2.1.
"So the Malay community is not replacing itself. Of course, these figures are even worse for the Chinese and Indian communities, but that's not a consolation. It's difficult (for our country) to be successful if we don’t have children," he said on Wednesday (Nov 18).
But Mr Shanmugam, who was speaking at the Berita Harian's Achiever of the Year award ceremony, said that the Government will keep the proportion of Malays here stable.
The community currently forms 15 per cent of the Singapore citizen population.
He also pledged that the Government will continue to work with the community to encourage excellence and achieve better outcomes for all.
He held up several initiatives from the M³ collaboration between three key Malay-Muslim organisations: Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra).
These include the SGTeguhBersatu (Singapore Resilient in Unity) task force, which brings together community partners and government agencies to improve support measures in areas like employment and mental health.
He also highlighted the work by continuing education and training provider Mendaki Sense, which has helped more than 650 people land a job.
Mr Shanmugam sketched out three broad areas where he said the Malay community has made progress.
First, in the area of income, the minister noted that the median monthly household income of Malay households has risen by more than 80 per cent over 15 years, from $2,900 in 2000 to $5,340 in 2015.
In terms of education, one in two Malay students progress to publicly funded full-time degree or diploma courses - an improvement from the one in four 20 years ago, he noted.
The third area is in terms of home ownership, as nine out of 10 Malay households now own their homes, and more than 60 per cent of these people live in a four-room flat or larger, Mr Shanmugam added.
He said: "Tremendous progress has been made, (and there is a) bright future for the children… who can get good jobs and excel. And that is also our wider Singapore story."
Mr Shanmugam presented the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year award to Mr Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir, deputy chief prosecutor and senior state counsel at the Attorney-General's Chambers. The award was given in recognition of Mr Faizal's contributions to the legal sector as well as to the community.
On Wednesday, Berita Harian also gave out the award for its Young Achiever of the Year to national team footballer 21-year-old Mr Ikhsan Fandi, who is currently playing for Norwegian First Division club Jerv.
Saying that many other accomplished and exemplary individuals like Mr Faizal and Mr Ikhsan have become role models for the next generation, Mr Shanmugam called for the Malay-Muslims to give back and to support one another.
"We must build on our successes and contribute to a thriving, integrated, vibrant Malay-Muslim community," he said.