Eyes on big picture at Malay community dialogue, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Eyes on big picture at Malay community dialogue

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Participants ask Minister Masagos Zulkifli about climate change, economy

Big-picture issues such as climate change, the economy and pre-schools were the topics discussed by Malay community leaders, volunteers and youth at a dialogue yesterday.

They 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 focused on issues pertinent to Singapore's future.

"I think this is a great sign, a good sign that 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 yesterday 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, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.

Mr Masagos kicked off the session by recapping three main areas of the 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 waste, linking the efforts to Islamic principles on waste minimisation.

He also spoke about how the Malay community in Singapore is distinct from the 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," Mr Masagos said.

Participant Muhammad Wafi Muhammad Amirul, 17, said the session was informative as he did not know much about the National Day Rally speech before the dialogue. The Muhammadiyah Islamic College student found the segment on sustainability 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."