While Malays here have taken great strides to build a strong culture of self-reliance and cooperation, more can step forward to volunteer with community groups, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday at the National Day Rally.
In his 15-minute Malay speech, Mr Lee held up the contributions of three key Malay/Muslim organisations which he dubbed M³ - the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), self-help group Mendaki and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra) - and urged more Malays here to volunteer.
The groups will continue to work closely together, pool volunteers and resources and collaborate with the Government and other Malay/ Muslim organisations.
By doing so, said Mr Lee, they can make more progress in tackling challenges faced by the community, including getting more children to attend pre-school, empowering and mentoring youth, and supporting those left behind because of drugs or social problems.
"I hope more Malays will contribute to the community through M³, whether you are new volunteers or activists already in the mosques and various Malay/Muslim organisations. Let us come forward to help, and take the community forward," he said at the rally at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central in Ang Mo Kio.
Mr Lee highlighted some of the plans and contributions of Mesra, Muis and Mendaki.
During the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in June, Mr Lee said he went to Geylang Serai to walk around and to see Wisma Geylang Serai, a community hub developed by the People's Association. Mesra has planned a series of events like youth festivals in the run-up to the hub's official opening in January.
STEP UP TO HELP
I hope more Malays will contribute to the community through M³, whether you are new volunteers or activists already in the mosques and various Malay/Muslim organisations. Let us come forward to help, and take the community forward.
PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG
Plans are also afoot to make Geylang Serai a more culturally distinctive district, said Mr Lee.
Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman will work with Mesra, business owners, the Government and Singaporeans, including the Malay community, to make the area more vibrant.
In his speech, Mr Lee also praised Muis for playing an important role in overseeing mosques here and providing religious guidance.
Many eminent Muslim thinkers have visited Singapore on the Muis Distinguished Visitor Programme to speak about Islam. They include the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayyeb, who was hosted to dinner by Mr Lee in May.
Mr Lee said Dr Ahmed's lecture emphasised how people of all religions should respect other faiths and interact in a practical and inclusive way - advice which is important for multiracial and multi-religious Singapore.
As for Mendaki, Mr Lee credited it with uplifting the community through its education and social programmes. These have helped Malay students to achieve sustained education improvements over the past few decades. "Most importantly, it has fostered a sense of pride in the community, a can-do spirit, of helping one another and making a difference," he added.
Wrapping up, Mr Lee said the Malay community has done well and maintained its identity, while being very much a part of Singapore.
Said Mr Lee: "Singapore must remain a country where all Malays can achieve their aspirations. Let us work together to strengthen our harmonious, multiracial community, and progress as one people, one Singapore."