Budget debate: New committee to enhance upward mobility scheme for Malay families, says Maliki

The scheme to help Malay families in rental flats become home owners will be enhanced. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A scheme to help Malay families in rental flats become home owners will be enhanced, with government agencies and community partners sharing data and coordinating efforts, so that these families receive comprehensive support.

These enhancements will be planned out by a new steering committee involving eight agencies that will work on the Project Dian@M3 scheme, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Maliki Osman.

The scheme was introduced last year to address the issue of more Malay households opting to live in rental units.

The agencies include the Education, National Development and Social and Family Development ministries, as well as the Early Childhood Development Authority and SkillsFuture Singapore.

The scheme has reached out to almost two-thirds of all Malay households in the three blocks where it is being piloted, in Bedok, Geylang Serai and Jalan Besar, Dr Maliki said on Thursday (March 10).

To ensure that the scheme delivers timely and targeted help, the Government has also formed a local operation group at each of the three pilot blocks, said the minister during the debate on the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's budget.

The group comprises officers from the same government agencies and community partners as those in the Project Dian steering committee, he said.

"Through this group, we will understand each family's circumstances and needs, and work together to provide comprehensive support," said Dr Maliki.

Project Dian@M3 is managed by the Engagement Coordination Office under the Government's M3 programme, which is a tie-up between self-help group Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council, or Mesra.

Census data released in June last year showed that the number of Malay households in one- and two-room Housing Board rental flats had more than doubled in the past decade, from about 9,100 in 2010 to about 18,600 in 2020.

The number of households from other races in one- and two- room rental HDB flats had increased at a lower rate over the decade. For Chinese households, this number went up from 28,000 to 28,700, while Indian households saw a jump from 4,600 to 6,800.

In his speech, Dr Maliki also said that the Government will be organising an M3 forum in the first half of next year to bring together volunteers in the community to network and share ideas as well as best practices.

"This will help raise the capabilities of our volunteers and, in turn, raise the overall quality of care for families."

Dr Maliki underscored the importance of volunteers in Singapore's efforts to help families and the vulnerable in the community. Volunteers play an important role in reaching out to families to understand their concerns, conducting needs assessments, and befriending them, he said.

He thanked them for their work and appealed for others to give their time as well, as more volunteers are needed.

"To expand our network of care, especially to the families with children aged six years old and below living in public rental flats, we need more volunteers to come forward to support us in this effort," he said.

"We need volunteers who can inspire hope in families, engage them regularly over an extended period of time, thereby building rapport and trust with them.

"I encourage more from the community to step forward and contribute in whatever way you can."

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