SINGAPORE - While Covid-19 has made it necessary for many to embrace digitalisation, there are some who need help grasping tools and skills of technology, and they should not be left behind, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Maliki Osman.
Digital inclusivity was one of the main concerns highlighted by participants during a virtual dialogue with Dr Maliki and Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence Zaqy Mohamad and members of the Malay/Muslim community on Thursday (Jan 7).
The dialogue, Seizing Opportunities in the Age of Digital Transformation, was the first of two to take place under the Ciptasama@M3 programme, which will gather insights to be used in policy decisions.
Dr Maliki noted participants had highlighted how groups like elderly people and residents of rental flats were especially in danger of being excluded technologically, and said that he was heartened to hear participants were concerned about this.
"They reminded us that we must make sure that whatever that we do, we must get to these vulnerable groups and… ensure that we walk the journey with them so that they don't get left behind," he said.
The community has a role to play in this as well, with Dr Maliki urging those who are able to do their part in reaching out to those in danger of falling behind digitally and guiding them.
Introduced last year, Ciptasama@M3 or Co-creation@M3 is a Malay/Muslim-focused programme that aims to encourage the community's participation in policymaking.
It is an initiative under the M3 collaboration by three key Malay/Muslim organisations: Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.
The roughly two hour dialogue involved more than 60 participants, who broke out into small groups before reconvening to discuss things further.
Some highlighted issues in getting members of the community to embrace learning more advanced skills and digitalisation, with one participant saying that there was a need to do more to highlight the benefits of picking up new skills.
She added that more engaging forms of media could be used to do so, and held up popular social media platforms like Instagram to get people interested.
Mr Zaqy acknowledged that there could be some issues in how the Government communicates its messaging, and that this will be looked at.
He also noted that many in the dialogue spoke about resilience in the community in the face of Covid-19 and technological disruption, and held up how Malay/Muslims here have worked to adapt themselves.
"I think it's quite wonderful to see many who are quite positive about the situation. Positive in the sense that while times are bleak and hard, but many too saw prospects or opportunities, despite the situation," he said.
The second dialogue will focus on strengthening Malay/Muslim families. It will be chaired by Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim and Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam on Jan 12.
The dialogues are being held in conjunction with the Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations, in which Singaporeans share their hopes and plans for a more caring, cohesive, and resilient post-coronavirus society by co-creating policy solutions.