SINGAPORE - Big-picture issues such as climate change, the economy and the importance of pre-schools were the topics discussed by Malay community leaders, volunteers and youth at a dialogue on Sunday (Sept 8).
These were among some of the questions posed at the hour-long session helmed by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli and Mr Saktiandi Supaat, an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
Mr Masagos said he was glad the questions - ranging from pre-school matters to how workers can cope with the economic slowdown - focused on issues pertinent to Singapore's future, and not just about bread and butter issues.
"I think this is a great sign, a good sign that our leaders in our community are able to articulate and be more concerned about longer-term issues that are as important as the bread and butter issues that we face," said Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
More than 200 Malay community leaders, volunteers and youth attended Sunday morning's dialogue at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability in Jurong East.
The session was the last of three post-National Day Rally dialogues organised by self-help group Yayasan Mendaki, Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra).
Mr Masagos kicked off the session by recapping three main areas of the National Day Rally speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Aug 18: forging a Singaporean identity, looking for opportunities in turbulent times, and preparing for climate change.
On climate change, he reiterated the need for citizens to be mindful about the waste they create, linking the efforts to the Islamic principles on waste minimisation.
He also spoke on how the Malay community in Singapore are distinct from the other Malay communities in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
What sets the Malay community apart from others is the Singaporean identity that is a common thread among all races and religions here, he said.
"After 200 years of the coming of Raffles, and more than 50 years of our independence, we have found our own identity. And we know the interests of Singapore should be our focus and centre of everything that we do," he said.
Dialogue participant Muhammad Wafi Muhammad Amirul, 17, said the session has been an informative one, as he did not know much about the National Day Rally speech prior to the dialogue.
The Muhammadiyah Islamic College student said he found the segment on sustainability issues particularly pertinent.
"We know that we have got to do something about it, and it's got us thinking about how we can save resources, like water, in our own mosques," he said.