Woodlands eighth town to have Malay/Muslim help initiative

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan presenting the top prize in a baby lookalike contest to Madam Venus Bancoro Catibog and her baby Maven Emmanuelle Bancoro Catibog, together with Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin (s
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan presenting the top prize in a baby lookalike contest to Madam Venus Bancoro Catibog and her baby Maven Emmanuelle Bancoro Catibog, together with Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin (second from right) and Admiralty Family Life Champion chairman Jackson Tan at Woodlands Galaxy Community Club yesterday.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Delivery driver Khairul Kamal, 25, considers his toddler's health and well-being to be his main concern, and hopes a new initiative in his neighbourhood in Woodlands will help young parents like him be more well informed.

M³@Town, which brings Malay/ Muslim volunteers and community leaders together to support residents in areas of concern to them, was launched in its eighth town islandwide yesterday.

The three focus areas for Woodlands residents, identified after six months of outreach through house visits and community events, are: financial and economic preparedness, health preparedness, and family and community wellness.

Mr Khairul, whose son is turning three, said his biggest challenge is managing his son's health, which includes knowing what food is good for the boy. "Having such a programme can help us learn more," he told The Straits Times.

M³@Town started last year and involves collaboration between the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), self-help group Mendaki and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra).

At last year's National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for more Malays to contribute to the community through M³, noting how collaboration between Malay/Muslim organisations and the Government can help to tackle challenges faced by the community.

M³@Town is also in Tampines, Bedok, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Nee Soon, Jurong, Chua Chu Kang and Marsiling-Yew Tee.

Focus areas differ for each town, with the spotlight in Marsiling-Yew Tee, for example, being on marriage, parenting and early childhood education.

Announcing the Woodlands initiative at a community event for new and prospective parents, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin noted the importance of financial preparedness, saying: "Especially given this uncertain economic climate, we want to prepare our people to ensure that (they) spend money wisely and have good jobs."

STAYING PRUDENT

Especially given this uncertain economic climate, we want to prepare our people to ensure that (they) spend money wisely and have good jobs.

MR AMRIN AMIN, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health, on the importance of financial preparedness.

 
 
 

The initiative also aims to harness potential within the Malay/ Muslim community, given its growing number of professionals, Mr Amrin, an MP for Sembawang GRC, told reporters at Woodlands Galaxy Community Club. "We'd like to involve them in uplifting the community."

The event was also attended by fellow MPs from Sembawang GRC, including Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

The 23 members of M³@Woodlands include lawyers, educators as well as various professionals, managers, executives and technicians, who will look into programmes for residents at different life stages.

Dr Noorul Fatha As'art, who is leading M³@Woodlands, said: "One of the programmes Mendaki has been working with us on teaches families how to cope with finances as well as appropriate financial skills."

Dr Noorul, who is chief medical officer with the Singapore Prison Service, added that this will be expanded to the rest of the GRC, noting that programmes by various organisations can be disparate and the aim now is to bring stakeholders together and avoid overlaps.


Focus areas of different M³@Towns

There are eight M³@Towns in Singapore. Their focus areas include:

• Tampines: Promoting a better understanding of Malay language, heritage and culture; engaging youth; and offering education and enrichment courses.

• Bedok: Promoting a healthy lifestyle.

• Pasir Ris-Punggol: Focusing on education and social engagement for the Malay/Muslim community, giving targeted support to those in need.

• Nee Soon: Focusing on marriage, parenthood and early childhood.

• Jurong: Outreach to the Malay community, especially to youth and low-income families.

• Chua Chu Kang: Focusing on Malay/Muslim couples, families with children, vulnerable individuals and youth.

• Marsiling-Yew Tee: Boosting outreach to individuals and families, particularly in the areas of marriage, parenthood and early childhood. It also aims to empower and mentor its youth.

• Woodlands: Focusing on financial preparedness, health preparedness, and family and community wellness.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2019, with the headline 'Woodlands eighth town to have Malay/Muslim help initiative'. Print Edition | Subscribe