Malay/Muslims urged to seize opportunities in future economy

How to ensure members of their community are not left behind in the rapidly-changing economy was among the key concerns raised by Malay/Muslim youth and professionals at a dialogue last night.

They also quizzed a panel, which included Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, on how they can overcome challenges and seize opportunities to succeed.

The four panellists stressed that while disruptive trends are here to stay, inculcating a spirit of resilience and innovation among youth could help them stay ahead.

Panellist Shamir Rahim, chief executive of logsitics software start- up VersaFleet and president of the Young Association of Muslim Professionals, said factors like grants can help build confidence in aspiring entrepreneurs, but the community has to show moral support for such a culture to thrive.

"In Singapore, we still have some way to go. When you see a start-up fail, people say 'Oh man, that's bad, he's a conman'. As a community what we can do is to be accepting of this failure," he said.

The dialogue at Mendaki saw 50 participants discuss the need to prepare for the future economy, a topic Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong raised in his National Day Rally speech. Mr Lee had said that while technology is changing industries and replacing jobs, it is also creating new opportunities.

Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information and Mendaki chairman, said the Government is committed to opening up more opportunities for youth of all races to take different educational pathways to success.

He called on parents to take on a more active role in planning for their children's education.

He cautioned against "creating artificial walls", saying: "If you look at the data over the last 50 years, there are clear indications the Malay community is progressing.

"We are now seeing professionals across a whole cross-section of disciplines... The opportunity for the Malay community to excel is there, there's nothing to prevent us from doing so."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'Malay/Muslims urged to seize opportunities in future economy'. Subscribe