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Strengthening our Community of Success

Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Minister for Social and Family Development & Second Minister for Health at the Committee of Supply Debate 2021

Mr Chairman,

Introduction

  1. The past year has been challenging for every Singaporean, due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. We have come a long way from a year ago. In this regard, I wish to put on record how proud I am to be part of the Malay/Muslim community. We made the necessary adjustments and rallied with our fellow Singaporeans, displaying a strong spirit of togetherness, regardless of race or religion to overcome this pandemic as one nation.
  2. The difficult adjustments made by the community in response to COVID-19 was possible because our religious leadership was decisive and united. Muis played a central role in this by issuing religious guidance early, and rallying asatizah and mosque leaders to guide the community to adapt to the changing environment. While Muis was monitoring developments and the decisions of religious authorities around the world, we could not simply copy what others had done, but rather had to find our own solutions. When difficult decisions were made, the community came together and supported these decisions. Everyone played a part to encourage and guide one another – lawyers, doctors, community leaders and ordinary citizens, all rolled up our sleeves.
  3. The ability and confidence to chart our own path and make adjustments has allowed the Malay/Muslim community to thrive as a Community of Success, demonstrating the three Cs – Competency, Character and Citizenry. This is why we must continue to invest in our asatizah and our community in these three fronts to strengthen our Community of Success.

    a. First, we have to continue equipping our asatizah with the necessary competencies to deal with future challenges and confidently lead the community in a diverse and multi-religious nation like Singapore;

    b. Second, we need to expand support for families – through which they develop our community’s character; and

    c. Third, encourage active citizenry in our community so that we will always stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Singaporeans.
  4. Mr Chairman, allow me to elaborate in Malay.

    Melengkapi asatizah dengan ilmu dan kecekapan untuk kekal relevan dan membimbing masyarakat dengan penuh yakin

  5. Tuan pengerusi, tahun lalu, kita lihat bagaimana penularan wabak COVID-19 mengubah persekitaran Singapura secara mendadak. Sektor keagamaan kita tidak dikecuali. Kepimpinan keagamaan di Muis memainkan peranan yang amat genting. Mereka bekerjasama dengan pelbagai pihak dalam membimbing masyakarat untuk menyesuaikan diri dengan persekitaran yang berubah-ubah dan mencabar. Saya juga bangga dan terharu dengan sifat ihsan masyarakat kita yang saling bantu-membantu sepanjang masa-masa mencabar itu.

    a. Para pemimpin agama tangkas dalam berbincang dengan pakar-pakar kesihatan, dan mengambil kira panduan para doktor dalam membimbing masyarakat menyesuaikan aktiviti sosio-agama kita dalam mengharungi kesan krisis COVID-19.

    b. Sepanjang Ramadan lalu, Muis bekerjasama dengan badan-badan masyarakat seperti Dewan Perniagaan dan Perusahaan Melayu Singapura dan Roses of Peace, antara lain, untuk melancarkan inisiatif Buka Puasa SGUnited. Inisiatif ini memastikan sokongan yang berterusan kepada para penerima zakat, dan operasi dapur pusat Melayu/Islam kita, restoran-restoran, serta perkhidmatan penghantaran.

    c. Malah, sekumpulan peguam Melayu/Islam, dikenali sebagai Lawyers@M³, juga bekerjasama untuk menasihati para peniaga mengenai undang-undang dan peraturan baru yang diluluskan, dan bagaimana ia boleh membantu mereka yang terjejas akibat langkah pemutus rantaian jangkitan, termasuk peniaga kecil-kecilan di rumah.
  6. Krisis COVID-19 turut membuka peluang bagi masyarakat kita. Ia telah memberi kita peluang mencari huraian yang inovatif supaya kita dapat terus menyediakan sokongan rohani bagi masyakarat. Malah, kita memahami bagaimana amalan agama pun dapat disesuaikan demi mengelak kemudaratan yang berpanjangan. Jelas, kita boleh berbangga kerana berjaya membuat penyesuaian dengan cepat dan berkesan. Muis pula memastikan bahawa masyarakat Melayu/Islam Singapura terus mendapat sokongan rohani yang diperlukan.
  7. Seperti yang dinyatakan Encik Saktiandi Supaat, beberapa huraian ini akan menjadi sesuatu yang normal dan berterusan di luar jangka masa pandemik ini. Dalam suasana COVID lah, penerapan digital semakin ketara.

    a. Ini termasuk portal derma dalam talian, OurMasjid.SG yang telah membantu menyediakan sokongan pendanaan yang berterusan dengan lebih daripada tiga juta dolar terkumpul sejak ia dilancarkan pada April 2020. Saya berbesar hati untuk berkongsi bahawa sumbangan zakat tidak berkurangan sepanjang tahun lalu, walaupun adanya wabak ini.

    b. Siaran khutbah dalam talian, melalui saluran SalamSG Muis di YouTube dan Facebook, dan Kuliah.SG, juga diteruskan. Wadah-wadah ini telah menyumbang kepada kekayaan kandungan agama yang bermutu di alam maya.

    c. Encik Saktiandi juga bertanya tentang solat terawih berjemaah untuk bulan Ramadan mendatang, Muis akan berkongsi maklumat lanjut tidak lama lagi.
  8. Apabila vaksin COVID-19 diluluskan di Singapura, Pejabat Mufti dengan tangkas mengeluarkan irsyad bahawa vaksin yang disahkan selamat dan berkesan dari segi saintifik dan perubatan, boleh digunakan oleh orang Islam demi menyelamatkan nyawa. Panduan yang jelas dan bertepatan ini juga membantu masyarakat berdepan dengan COVID-19. Sekali gus ia sejajar dengan nilai-nilai dan prinsip kukuh dalam Islam, dan membantu memberikan keyakinan kepada masyarakat kita untuk mendapatkan vaksinasi bagi COVID-19.
  9. Ini adalah antara bukti kebolehan asatizah kita. Sebagai pemimpin agama, asatizah memikul tanggungjawab besar dalam menyediakan bimbingan tentang ehwal keagamaan dalam konteks masyarakat Singapura yang berbilang budaya dan agama, terbuka dan sering berhadapan dengan cabaran-cabaran yang datang bertubi-tubi. Bimbingan sedemikian membentuk keperibadian masyarakat kita, agar kita boleh mengatasi apa juga cabaran di masa hadapan dan terus maju sebagai sebuah Masyarakat Gemilang.
  10. Cik Rahayu Mahzam tadi bertanya apakah yang dilakukan untuk memastikan asatizah dilengkapi dengan kemahiran yang relevan. Kita harus menilai kerjaya asatizah supaya tidak berbeza dengan kerjaya lain. Kerana itu, kita mesti melatih generasi asatizah supaya bersiap sedia untuk masa hadapan. Justeru kita perlu membina satu ekosistem pembelajaran sepanjang hayat untuk membolehkan mereka terus mempertingkatkan kemahiran seiring dengan perkembangan semasa.
  11. Sehubungan ini, Muis berjaya melancarkan program Sijil Pos Siswazah Islam dalam Masyarakat Kontemporari (PCICS) pada April tahun lalu. Program setahun PCICS ini adalah satu komitmen dan usaha yang penting untuk asatizah kita yang bercita-cita tinggi. Ia juga memastikan kelulusan dan kemahiran asatizah yang diraih di pelbagai pusat pengajian agama tinggi luar negara, bermutu dan relevan untuk memberi bimbingan agama yang sesuai dengan kehidupan masyarakat majmuk kita dan perubahan dunia yang begitu pesat. Ini penting demi menjaga taraf pendidikan yang diiktiraf sebagai satu golongan profesional. Untuk menjawab Encik Fahmi Aliman, di bawah PCICS, para pelajar juga dilengkapkan dengan kemahiran kerja sosial dan kaunseling, agar dapat memberi khidmat yang lebih menyeluruh kepada masyarakat Melayu/Islam tempatan. Ini juga membolehkan asatizah mendapat peluang pekerjaan di luar sektor masjid, madrasah dan institusi agama, seperti yang dicadangkan Encik Abdul Samad.
  12. Menjawab Encik Wan Rizal, madrasah menyediakan pendidikan holistik yang merangkumi mata pelajaran sekular dan agama demi membangunkan golongan cendekiawan (thought leaders) pada masa hadapan yang penuh yakin membimbing masyarakat berpendidikan  tinggi. Sebahagian daripada kurikulum ini, pihak madrasah telah memperkenalkan program pembelajaran berasaskan kemahiran dan bekerjasama dengan pelbagai agensi untuk menyediakan pembelajaran berasaskan pengalaman  (experential learning journeys) supaya pelajar mendapat pendedahan dalam sektor agama dan sektor-sektor lain. Sebagai contoh, Madrasah Al-Arabiah telah memulakan program penyelidikan sains dengan Institut KejuruteraanBio dan TeknologiNano (IBN), A*Star dan NUS. Para pelajar mereka juga menyertai program Arkitek Muda Tanah Air atau CapitaLand Young Architects Programme.
  13. Tahun lalu, Muis mengumumkan Pelan Pembangunan Tenaga Kerja Asatizah (AWDP) yang bertujuan untuk memperluaskan laluan kerjaya dan peluang bagi asatizah kita. Muis bekerjasama dengan sektor masjid dan madrasah untuk melaksanakan inisiatif AWDP. Di bawah AWDP, asatizah boleh mengikuti Program Peningkatan Kemahiran atau Skills Upgrading Programme dan Rangka Kerjaya dan Kecekapan atau Career Competency Framework. Program-program ini akan membantu melengkapkan mereka dengan kemahiran bagi sektor agama dan sektor berkaitan yang bermanfaat untuk masyarakat kita.

    Memperluaskan sokongan untuk keluarga

  14. Tuan Pengerusi, untuk terus maju sebagai sebuah Masyarakat Gemilang, kita harus memperkukuhkan keluarga Melayu/Islam yang merupakan asas penting bagi masyarakat kita. Satu bidang penting yang harus diberi tumpuan ialah keperluan keluarga yang kian berubah. Keluarga kini bersifat lebih pelbagai ekoran perkahwinan silang kaum, perkahwinan semula dan struktur keluarga yang rumit, dengan adanya ibu bapa atau adik-beradik tiri.
  15. Cik Nadia Ahmad Samdin meminta maklumat terkini tentang  program Bersamamu. Saya gembira untuk berkongsi bahawa Kadi dan Naib kita telah menerajui usaha untuk meluaskan peranan mereka dalam memperkukuhkan institusi keluarga, dengan sokongan Menteri Negara, Dr Faishal Ibrahim.  Di bawah Bersamamu, peranan Kadi dan Naib Kadi kita bukan setakat menikahkan mempelai tetapi juga memberi sokongan dan nasihat yang disesuaikan kepada pasangan sebelum pernikahan sehinggalah beberapa tahun mereka berkahwin. Ini memastikan mempelai kita dapat melayari alam perkahwinan dengan persiapan yang kukuh. Selain bimbingan agama, Kadi dan Naib Kadi juga berkongsi maklumat mengenai program-program nasional dan dalam masyarakat yang boleh memanfaatkan pasangan, seperti KelasMatematika@CC anjuran M³ untuk kanak-kanak pra-sekolah.
  16. Cik Nadia juga bertanya bagaimana Bersamamu dapat meluaskan jangkauan dalam talian. Pada Januari lalu, ROMM telah melancarkan wadah Facebook bagi memudahkan para peserta Bersamamu untuk mendapatkan keterangan tentang perkahwinan, keibubapaan dan pembangunan awal kanak-kanak mereka. Ini akan menyediakan pasangan dengan sumber yang berguna dan peluang untuk menimba pengetahuan, pengalaman serta nasihat daripada pasangan yang lain, serta Kadi dan Naib Kadi.
  17. ROMM, bersama dengan Muis, dan MSF juga menjalankan program Community of Practice bagi Kadi dan Naib Kadi. Program baru ini memberi Kadi dan Naib Kadi peluang untuk berinteraksi dan berkongsi pengalaman, dan mempelajari contoh terbaik di dalam dan luar negara, sekaligus menyumbang kepada pembangunan kemahiran Kadi dan Naib Kadi.
  18. Tambahan lagi, MSF juga sedang mengemaskini kandungan kursus perkahwinan Cinta Abadi, untuk merangkumi kandungan seperti fatwa mengenai pemilikan bersama flat atau rumah (joint tenancy), agar keluarga dapat dilengkapi dengan maklumat yang diperlukan. Kursus ini kini ditawarkan dalam talian demi langkah keselamatan COVID-19, lantas memberi peluang untuk lebih ramai pasangan menyertainya. MSF juga memberikan rebat sebanyak tujuh puluh dolar ($70) kepada mempelai yang menghadiri kursus Cinta Abadi mulai suku kedua tahun ini.

    Menggalakkan semangat kewarganegaraan dan mempertingkatkan sokongan bagi masyarakat melalui M³

  19. Dalam memacu kehadapan sebagai sebuah Masyarakat Gemilang, kita perlu memastikan program-program bantuan dapat menjangkau golongan yang memerlukannya dalam masyarakat kita. Oleh itu, inisiatif M³ merupakan nadi usaha kerjasama masyarakat Melayu/Islam, dan Menteri Maliki Osman akan memberi butiran lanjut tentang pelan masa depan M³ dalam ucapannya.
  20. Masyarakat Melayu/Islam juga telah menyumbang kepada Perbincangan Singapura Bersama Bangkit Lebih Kukuh atau Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations, melalui dua sesi Ciptasama@M³ Januari lalu. Melalui sesi-sesi ini, kita dapat mendengar pandangan dan cadangan masyarakat tentang isu-isu nasional dan dalam masyarakat yang menjadi keprihatinan mereka. Awal tahun ini, saya mengumumkan bahawa tahun ini adalah tahun Meraikan Wanita Singapura ataupun “Year of Celebrating SG Women”. Ucapan saya juga untuk semua wanita dalam mengingati Hari Wanita Antarabangsa hari ini. Menjawab soalan Cik Nadia, beberapa perbincangan dengan masyarakat Melayu/Islam kita tentang pembangunan wanita akan diterajui Setiausaha Parlimen Cik Rahayu Mahzam sepanjang tahun ini. Saya berharap menerusi perbincangan ini, kita akan mengumpulkan idea yang menyokong dan meraikan wanita Melayu/Islam di Singapura. Dengan ini, saya berharap bahawa kita dapat memperkasa kaum wanita di samping memupuk dan memperkukuh semangat kewarganegaraan dalam masyarakat kita dan juga Singapura.
  21. Tuan Pengerusi, dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

    Living in a Diverse and Multi-Religious Society

  22. Mr Faisal Manap raised a few issues which I will attempt to answer during the clarification. But for now I would like to mention that to ensure that we live harmoniously in a diverse and multi-religious society, we have to make adjustments, like other communities. The adjusments that our community had to make over the last year to overcome the pandemic were not easy.

    a. We stoically went through Ramadan without our prayers at mosques, no annual bazaars, and no colourful Hari Raya visits. We could not even visit the graves of our loved ones. Our fellow Singaporeans too celebrated a muted Deepavali, Christmas and Chinese New Year recently.

    b. We closed our mosques, during the circuit breaker, as did churches and temples.

    c. We were one of the first countries to postpone the Haj pilgrimage last year. A major decision that others followed suit.

    d. Come May, we will once again be celebrating Hari Raya, hopefully with more spirit but alwaysready to make adjustments so that we all stay safe.
  23. But this has been the story of the Singapore Malay/Muslim community, contributing to the nation as a Community of Success. Adapting and always quietly finding unique solutions to our own challenges when they arise. In the 70s, we established the Mosque Building Fund, tapping on every working Muslim adult to fund and build all our mosques, so that no foreign money and influence will find its way here. Recently, we established important institutions such as the Asatizah Recognition Scheme, so that only our own home grown religious leaders in our madrasah can preach here.
  24. But our quiet, peaceful way to resolve our religious challenges internally has been broken. Mr Faisal Manap earlier asked for nurses and those serving in uniformed services, during the Budget, to be allowed to wear the tudung. We empathise with the views of those who want to don the tudung as part of their uniform in nursing. This is not the first time Mr Faisal has raised this as have other PAP Malay/Muslim MPs previously. Indeed, many Muslim women contribute meaningfully and serve our nation and society through noble jobs such as nursing, and their contributions have been tremendous especially during the pandemic.
  25. Our Government’s secular stand has been consistently clear when it comes to policymaking. This is our approach when dealing even-handedly with requests from different religious groups, especially when it affects our common spaces. This point was made by Minister Shanmugam earlier and I note that Leader of the Opposition, Mr Pritam Singh, agreed with such an approach during MHA’s COS debate. Save for the practices that we inherited as a legacy from the British Government, our uniform policy in the public service cannot be tilted towards any particular religious belief.
  26. I would like to explain why this can be sensitive and in this case, one of many considerations. In our multi-racial society, in services that play critical roles in our society, the uniform is a visible sign that the service is rendered equally regardless of race or religion. Allowing tudungs would introduce a very visible religious marker that identify every tudung wearing female nurse or uniformed officer as a Muslim. This has significant implications – we do not want patients to prefer or not prefer to be served by a Muslim nurse, nor do we want people to think that public security is being enforced by a Muslim or non-Muslim police officer. This is what makes the decision difficult, and sensitive.
  27. Public, aggressive pressure on such an issue can only make compromise harder.  Any government concession to religious pressure will cause other groups to take note and adopt similarly aggressive postures. Race and religion will become increasingly polarising and this will harm all of us, especially the minority communities.  Hence, after discussing the Government’s considerations with the PAP MPs, we agreed to take the approach of careful, closed doors discussions because we understand its complexity and sensitivity. This is as enjoined by Ms Rahayu Mahzam just now. For sensitive issues like the wearing of tudung in the workplace where uniforms are required, we continue to have discussions and consultations with the community, our community especially, behind closed doors. We previously engaged unions, religious teachers and respected members of the community – and they understand why we have adopted our current approach on uniforms in the public service.
  28. In this regard, let me again state that I empathise that some Muslim women may find it challenging to choose or remain in professions where they personally find it difficult to fulfil both religious and professional duties at the same time, at some point in their life. However, workplaces are an important part of the common space that we share with our fellow Singaporeans, and we must not withdraw from them. As a community, we have been adept in making adaptations and adjustments, while at the same time being able to practise our religion. Let’s take the example of our mosques. With the help of the government, we have built mosques in housing estates over the years, right next to homes of fellow Singaporeans of different and various races and religions. On our part, we have made some adjustments in consideration to non-Muslims living near the mosques, such as lowering the volume of the azan and playing it inwards in the mosque – the azan is also played on the Malay radio channel. As Singaporeans, we understand and respect each other’s religious beliefs and practices. This is how we have adjusted as a community, but it hasn’t limited our faith, but instead allowed it to thrive. And new mosques can continue to be built in our heartlands.
  29. We recognise that Mr Faisal Manap may not agree with our Government’s approach. And continues to open up this topic in public discourse. Nevertheless, at the heart of our approach is our desire to protect the precious harmony that we have built over the years with other communities in Singapore, and fulfil our religious needs and always consider to do what is best in the interest of our multi-racial and multi-religious nation. This desire to protect racial and religious harmony is aligned with Islamic teaching. What we want is to strengthen our relationships across communities, and work towards the common good. Hence, we must be respectful of the secular nature of our state and maintain our common space, even as we look for outcomes that will fulfil the aspirations of our community. I call on our community to reflect how precious this peace and harmony is to us as Muslims. I call on everyone to preserve this. Let’s not focus on issues that will be divisive.
  30. This issue reminds me of a quote that I would like to share with Members – “The Islamic belief system is built upon pillars of guidance not compulsion, moderation not extremism, peace not war, gentleness not harshness, love not hate, cooperation not disassociation, ease not hardship, brotherhood and sisterhood not enmity.”. Our local Asatizah also hold this view that the religion inculcates these values that spur us to find pragmatic solutions in complex situations.

    Conclusion

  31. Mr Chairman, I began by sharing how proud I am of how the Malay/Muslim community has adjusted quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic. This would not have been possible without the strong leadership of Muis, working with our asatizah, together with the strong support of everyone in the community.
  32. Recently, when news broke of the detention of the 16-year-old Singaporean who planned to conduct terrorist attacks against Muslims at two mosques, our community showed solidarity and social cohesion. Together with leaders of other faith communities, we condemned the attack and affirmed efforts to ensure peaceful and harmonious relations are always maintained among our diverse communities, even in a crisis such as this pandemic. This is how our community demonstrates citizenry, standing united with everyone in Singapore regardless of race or religion. To Mr Fahmi Aliman’s query, our asatizah and Muis must continue to strengthen efforts to promote interfaith understanding – through religious teachings and guidance, and holding dialogues with other interfaith groups.
  33. Mr Chairman, while the past year was full of unprecedented challenges, I am certain that as long as we continue to invest in the key three attributes  – Competence, Character and Citizenry, we will emerge stronger in this crisis as a Community of Success, contributing to the success of our nation.

    English translation of the Malay section

Equipping our asatizah with the necessary competencies to remain relevant

  1. Last year, we saw how COVID-19 drastically transformed the environment in Singapore, and our religious sector was no exception. The religious leadership in Muis needed to worked with various parties, and was pivotal in guiding the community to adapt to the challenging and changing environment. I was proud and heartened to see how the community rallied together to help one another during these challenging times.

    a. The religious leadership in Muis were quick to consult with health experts, and took inguidance from doctors, to guide our community to adapt their socio-religious activities in overcoming the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

    b. Throughout Ramadan last year, Muis worked with community bodies such as the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI) and Roses of Peace, among others, to launch the SGUnited Buka Puasa initiative. This initiative ensured continued support for zakat recipients and continued operations for our Malay/Muslim central kitchens, as well as food and beverage companies, restaurants and delivery services.

    c. In addition, a group of Malay/Muslim lawyers, known as Lawyers@M³, came together to advise businesses on the new laws and regulations that were passed, and how this could help their affected businesses due to the COVID Circuit Breaker measures, including home-based businesses.
  2. The COVID-19 crisis also provided opportunities for our community. It provided us with the opportunity to find innovative solutions to continue providing spiritual support for our community. Moreover, we understood how our religious practices could be tailored to avoid extended risks. Clearly, we can be proud that we were able to adapt quickly and effectively. Muis made sure the Malay/Muslim community of Singapore continued to have access to the spiritual support required.
  3. As Mr Saktiandi highlighted, some of these solutions will become the new normal and continue beyond the pandemic. In the COVID pandemik, digital applications are becoming more prevalent.

    a. This includes OurMasjid.SG, an online donation portal, which has helped to provide continued funding support with more than three million dollars collected since it was launched in April 2020. I am pleased to note that despite the pandemic, there was no reduction in zakat collected last year.

    b. The streaming of sermons online, via Muis’ SalamSG channel on YouTube and Facebook, and Kuliah.SG will also continue. These platforms have contributed to the wealth of high quality Islamic content available online.

    c. Mr Saktiandi’s also asked on the congregational terawih prayers for the coming month of Ramadan, Muis will share further details soon.
  4. When the COVID-19 vaccine became available, the Office of the Mufti quickly issued an irsyad that vaccines that are scientifically certified safe and effective, can be used by Muslims as this would save lives. This clear and timely guidance also helped the community to face COVID-19. At the same time, it is in line with the strong values and principles in Islam, and has helped our community have full confidence to participate in the ongoing vaccination programme.
  5. This proves our asatizah’s (religious leaders) capabilities. As religious leaders of the community, they bear the responsibility of providing sound religious guidance, contextualised to Singapore’s multi-cultural and multi-religious society, that is open and always facing rapid challenges. Such guidance shapes our community’s character, so that we are able to overcome any future challenges and thrive as a Community of Success.
  6. Ms Rahayu Mahzam earlier asked what was done to ensure that asatizah are equipped with relevant skills. We should evaluate the career of asatizah such that it is not different from other careers. That is why, we must continue to train future generations of asatizah who are ready for the future. Hence, we must build a lifelong learning system to enable them to continuously upgrade their skills and keep abreast of new developments.
  7. In this regard, Muis successfully commenced the Postgraduate Certificate in Islam in Contemporary Society (PCICS) programme last April. The 1-year  PCICS programme is a significant commitment and effort for our aspiring asatizah. It also ensures that the achievements and skills of asatizah attained from various institutes of higher learning overseas are relevant and of quality to guide our religious lives that is suited to our multi-racial and multi-religious society and a world which is rapidly changing. This is important to maintain the standards of education to be recognised as a group of professionals. To Mr Fahmi Aliman’s query, under PCICS, participants will be equipped with social work and counselling skills to better serve the needs of the local Malay/Muslim community. This will allow asatizah to pursue opportunities beyond the mosques, madrasahs and religious institutions, as proposed by Mr Abdul Samad.
  8. To answer Mr Wan Rizal, madrasahs provide a holistic education which includes both secular and religious subjects to develop religious thought leaders for the future who are confident in guiding a highly educated community. As part of the curriculum, madrasahs have introduced skills-based enrichment programmes and collaborated with various agencies to provide experiential learning journeys for students to gain exposure in the religious sector and beyond. For example, Madrasah Al-Arabiah has embarked on a Science Research Mentorship with a Scientist programme with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), A*Star and NUS. Their students also participated in the CapitaLand Young Architects Programme.
  9. Last year, Muis announced the Asatizah Workforce Development Plan or AWDP in short which aims to enhance career pathways and opportunities for asatizah. Since then, Muis has been working with the mosque and madrasah sectors to implement the initiatives under the AWDP. As part of AWDP, asatizah can look forward to the Skills Upgrading Programme and Career Competency Framework. These programmes allow asatizah to equip themselves with relevant skills for the religious sector, as well as for  adjacent sectors that would be beneficial for the community.

    Expand support for families

  10. Mr Chairman, to continue nurturing a Community of Success, we need to strengthen our Malay/Muslim families as a key building block of our community. A key area that requires attention is the changing needs of families. Families are becoming more diverse – we have more inter-racial marriages, remarriages and complex family structures with step-parents and step-siblings.
  11. Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin asked for an update on the Bersamamu programme. I am heartened to share that our Kadi and Naib Kadi have taken the lead to expand their role in strengthening families, with the support of Minister of State, Dr Faishal Ibrahim. Under the Bersamamu programme, Kadi and Naib Kadi’s role is no longer limited to solemnising couples. They will also provide advice and support tailored to the couple prior to their marriage and for the first few years of their marriage. This ensures the couple can start their marriage on the right footing. Apart from religious support, Kadi and Naib Kadi will also share information on national and community programmes that can benefit couples, such as such as KelasMateMatika@CC that is organised by M³ for preschool children.
  12. To Ms Nadia’s question on expanding online outreach, last January, the ROMM launched the Bersamamu Facebook page to facilitate the sharing of information related to marriage, parenting and early childhood development for couples from the Bersamamu programme. This will provide couples with a useful resource and an opportunity to tap on the knowledge, experience and advice from fellow couples as well as the Kadi and Naib Kadi.
  13. ROMM together with Muis, and  MSF have started the Community of Practice Programme for Kadi and Naib Kadi. The new programme provides Kadi and Naib Kadi the opportunity to interact and share experiences, and learn local and overseas best practices as part of Kadi and Naib Kadi’s professional development.
  14. MSF, with the support of Muis, ROMM and SYC is also refreshing the content for the Cinta Abadi marriage preparation course, to include the updated content such as the published fatwa on joint tenancy, so that families are equipped with relevant information. Due to the COVID-19 safe management measures, the programme is now offered as an online workshop, making it more accessible to couples. Furthermore, MSF will also provide a $70 rebate for couples attending the Cinta Abadi marriage preparation course from  the second quarter of this year.

    Encourage active citizenry and enhanced community support via M³

  15. As we continue to nurture a Community of Success, we must also ensure that any assistance and programmes remain accessible to the more vulnerable groups in our community. That is why the M³ initiative is central to the collaborations within the Malay/Muslim community and Minister Maliki Osman will elaborate on the future plans for M³ in his speech.
  16. Our community has also contributed to the Singapore Together Emerging Strong Conversations with two Ciptasama@M³ sessions last January. Through these sessions, we listened to the views and suggestions from the community on both national and community issues that were of greatest concern to them. Earlier this year, I announced that this year is the “Year of Celebrating SG Women”. Wishing all women a Happy International Women’s Day. To Ms Nadia’s query, several engagements with our Malay/Muslim community on women’s development will be led by Parliamentary Secretary Ms Rahayu Mahzam throughout this year. I hope through these conversations, we will gather ideas to support and celebrate the Malay/Muslim women. These efforts help to empower women and build a culture of active citenzry within our community and Singapore.

 

 
Last updated on 08 March 2021