SINGAPORE - It was seeing one of his closest friends go through a lot of stress and health complications, and almost losing a leg to diabetes, that jolted Mr Suraidi Sipan into seeing how seriously the disease has affected the Malay community.
Mr Suraidi, president of Malay literary association Asas '50, realised it was an issue that needed to be addressed.
Diabetes Singapore (DS) has now partnered with Asas '50 to organise a Malay poetry competition to raise awareness about the disease.
DS is a non-profit organisation that provides education, support and counselling for diabetics and their families.
Mr Satyaprakash Tiwari, executive director of DS, said: "The prevalence of diabetes is not a 'Malay problem' but (indicates) a gap in empowering (the community) to combat diabetes. This poetry competition is an excellent opportunity to use an ethnic-centric approach to create awareness and understanding about diabetes."
Last week, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam highlighted that 14.4 per cent of Malays had diabetes in 2020.
Mr Tiwari spoke to the media on Friday (March 12) to announce the programmes being planned to combat diabetes, as part of the 50th anniversary of DS this year.
In addition to the poetry competition, there will be engagement sessions about managing diabetes during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan which starts in April, and a run open to all to raise awareness about diabetes.
LDSY Pte Ltd, a company which specialises in the use of sound waves to promote positive brain development, is sponsoring the poetry competition.
The competition will be judged by volunteers from Asas '50, the Association of Muslim Professionals Singapore and the M3 grouping of Muis, Mendaki and Mesra.
Mr Suraidi said: "I believe this competition will help educate the Malay community about the different aspects of diabetes and, at the same time, help them get closer to Malay culture through poetry."
LDSY's master trainer, Mr Peter Tan, said the company's philosophy of promoting a healthy lifestyle was aligned with the DS mission to combat diabetes. The products sponsored by the company for this competition are headphones that play music at specific frequencies, which it claims can improve the listeners' sleep quality and accelerate learning.
From Friday to April 15, those interested in participating can submit their original Malay poems to DS. The competition is split into three categories: for those aged 15 to 35, for those 36 to 59, and for those 60 and above.
The top entry from each category will receive $1,000, while the first and second runners-up will each receive LDSY products worth roughly $680. There will also be a consolation prize of NTUC vouchers worth $200 for fourth place in each category.
The winners will be announced on April 23 and will be invited to an awards event later this year.