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Building Strong Foundations for Progress and Contribution

Speech by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence, at the Committee of Supply Debate 2024

  1. Our Malay/Muslim community has made significant progress in the last decade, especially in education. As the community's talent pool strengthens, it provides strong foundations for our community to contribute back, and support one another as a Community of Success.
  2. MENDAKI has played a key role in improving the education and professional development outcomes in our community. And we do so in three ways:
    • First, to strengthen education as a pillar for progress;
    • Two, empowering our community to thrive and contribute; and 
    • Three, grooming community leadership for the future. 
  3. Last year, MENDAKI engaged and supported close to 90,000 members of the community through its various programmes and schemes.  

    Strengthening Education as a Pillar for Progress

  4. One of MENDAKI’s key pillars is to provide support for our children and youth at all stages of their education. To achieve this, one of our main approaches is to mobilise talents and energise the community.
  5. Mr Sharael Taha asked about the progress of MENDAKI’s signature programmes like KelasMateMatika (KMM) and the MENDAKI Tuition Programme (MTP).
  6. I am happy to share that our KMM programme for pre-schoolers saw a 74% increase in its enrolment between 2022 and 2023, with 1,700 children and 1,500 parents enrolled in the programme in 2023. 
    • Parental involvement has been an important part of KMM, to ensure that parents are empowered and confident to support their children’s learning.
    • KMM’s scale up was possible with the help of targeted outreach and referrals by partners such as Family Service Centres (FSCs), Social Service Agencies (SSAs) as well as M3@Towns. 
    • More KMM facilitators have also come on board, with their number tripling from about 50 in 2022 to more than 140 in 2023.
    • One KMM facilitator is Mr Irfan Bin Ibrahim, a Year 3 student at the NUS, who started volunteering when he was serving his National Service in 2020. Volunteering shaped his decision to take up a degree in psychology and pursue a career in the social services sector, to continue contributing to the community.
  7. The MENDAKI Tuition Programme continues to be the backbone of our educational programmes, and enrolment for primary and secondary school students has increased by 15% over the past 5 years, to over 9,000 students in 2023. 
    • Today, MTP students are supported by 100 physical and virtual centres. 
    • MENDAKI has also continually sought to improve MTP offerings – such as by expanding its subjects offered to include Biology and Additional Mathematics. 
  8. Mr Fahmi Aliman has also asked how we could encourage and inspire more people to step forward and serve, especially those who have benefitted and done well. MENDAKI has many platforms for the community to contribute their skills and passion to meet the community needs. An example is how our steadfast MENDAKI Tuition Programme tutors have played an integral role in how MTP has grown from strength to strength. 
    • One such tutor is Ms Anggreini Hamid, who benefitted from MTP during her secondary school days. Now a schoolteacher herself, she has been contributing back as an MTP tutor for the past 18 years. She adopts innovative techniques to make her classes more engaging and effective for her students. Just a tidbit, all three of us, Minister Masagos, myself and SPS Rahayu were MTP tutors at some points in our lives. We have done our volunteer duty to contribute back to the community.
  9. At the post-secondary and tertiary level, MENDAKI’s initiatives such as the Youth Mentoring Office help students realise their potential. SPS Rahayu will share more on these efforts in her speech.  

    Empowering Our Community to Thrive and Contribute

  10. Beyond a strong educational foundation, our Community of Success also needs a workforce that can secure good jobs and meaningful careers. We want to empower our workers to thrive so that they can grow our community and our nation. 
  11. Mr Fahmi Aliman and Mr Sharael Taha asked about our plans to better support Malay/Muslim professionals and workers in the future economy.MENDAKI continues to help our workforce to develop their careers and professional networks, complementing national efforts by our tripartite partners in Government, employers and the labour movement. 

    Support for Malay/Muslim Professionals

  12. MENDAKI initiated the Professional Networks to support Malay/Muslim professionals in growing their networks, to contribute back to the community, to exchange ideas and to help younger workers enter growth industries. 
    • To date, MENDAKI has formed nine Professional Networks covering various industries in the Care, Green and Digital sectors, and plan to form four more new networks in areas such as Healthcare and Media this year. 
    • To Mr Sharael Taha’s question, within both the professional Networks and beyond, we now have about 1,000 Malay/Muslim professionals contributing across MENDAKI’s initiatives, whether it is serving as KMM facilitators, MTP tutors, youth mentors, or as speakers or human libraries.
    • We now have more than 450 Malay/Muslim professionals in these networks as at 2023, and MENDAKI will continue to encourage more professionals to join and serve as mentors.

    Collaboration with Corporate Partners

  13. Chairman, in previous COS debates, I shared about how corporate partners have partnered MENDAKI to provide scholarships for students to enter different industries from biomedical to finance, to aviation and technology. 
    • From this year, I am happy to announce that Micron Semiconductor will come on board to provide scholarships over three years to engineering students in polytechnics, as well as internships and learning activities for secondary and tertiary students.
  14. We appreciate how companies also provide other forms of support, such as mentoring, to our students. 
    • More than 50 MSD Pharma staff, such as data scientists and those from the Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity sectors, have signed up as mentors to 120 ITE students through the #amPowered@ITE programme. 

    Providing Support and Assurance to Workers

  15. So, as our economy and workforce evolves, MENDAKI will continue to support our Malay/Muslim workforce in navigating career transitions and seizing future opportunities.
    • Through the M3 Focus Area 4 (FA4) on Employment and Employability, MENDAKI employs a community-based strategy by collaborating with M3 partners, including the NTUC. More than 5,000 Malay/Muslim workers have benefitted, including receiving support from MENDAKI’s Care Advisors on their job search and career-related needs. 
    • For women who wish to return to the workforce after a career break, MENDAKI’s Women at Work (W@W) programme equips them with the relevant skills and connecting them with job opportunities. 
    • In 2023, MENDAKI referred over 140 participants from W@W to NTUC’s e2i for career coaching and job assistance, with close to 60 successfully securing  job offers.
    • One of them is Ms Siti Raudah, who was looking for a job to support her family and their three school-going children, after her husband was retrenched. Ms Siti joined the Women at Work programme in September last year, where she benefitted from support such as interview techniques, and access to broader social and professional networks. Earlier this year, Ms Siti found a job as an admin executive in the oil and gas industry, and shared that the programme has helped her to transit back into the workforce.

    Chairman, in Malay, please.

    Membentuk Kepimpinan Masyarakat Masa Hadapan

  16. Strategi ketiga kami adalah membangunkan pemimpin bukan sahaja untuk masyarakat kita, tetapi juga untuk negara. 

  17. Cik Nadia Ahmad Samdin bertanya tentang perkembangan terkini  program Tunas.

  18. MENDAKI melancarkan program Tunas bersama M3 pada tahun 2022 untuk memupuk barisan pemimpin seterusnya bagi pertubuhan Melayu/Islam atau MMO.

    • Program 18 bulan ini bukan sahaja membekalkan peserta dengan ilmu pengetahuan, kemahiran dan rangkaian kenalan agar dapat menyumbang dan memimpin pertubuhan masing-masing. Malah kami mahu membantu mereka untuk memainkan peranan kepimpinan yang lebih besar untuk menjangkau masyarakat Melayu/Islam pada masa hadapan. Di antara peserta Tunas adalah NMP Dr Syed Harun yang hari ini antara pemimpin muda MMO kita.
    • Sebagai contoh, peserta dapat mempertingkatkan lagi kecekapan dalam bidang urus tadbir, usaha mengumpul dana, komunikasi, dan pengurusan perubahan, serta berpeluang dibimbing oleh para pemimpin berpengalaman. 
  19. Kohort pertama Tunas yang terdiri daripada 13 peserta dari pelbagai MMO akan menamatkan program mereka pada bulan April ini.
    • Para peserta dapat menggunakan ilmu dan kemahiran yang diperolehi untuk menjalankan tujuh projek masyarakat yang sejajar dengan bidang tumpuan M3
    • Sebagai contoh, melalui Project Dream On, para peserta Tunas bekerjasama dengan profesional daripada Rangkaian Karyawan  MENDAKI. Tujuan mereka ialah untuk memberi peluang kepada belia Melayu/Islam yang berusia di antara 15 hingga 17 tahun melalui latihan bekerja khusus kepada sektor-sektor yang sedang membangun. Ini bagi membantu para belia meluaskan pengalaman dan pola pemikiran  mereka terhadap peluang pekerjaan masa hadapan.
    • Para peserta belia berkongsi bahawa pengalaman ini telah membantu membina keyakinan, mendedahkan mereka kepada pelbagai pengalaman dan meransang minat mereka, serta membantu untuk membentuk bidang pengajian dan perancangan kerjaya mereka dengan lebih baik. 
  20. Berdasarkan hasil positif program ini, kami mengalu-alukan kohort kedua peserta Tunas pada bulan April nanti. Dan kohort ini akan melibatkan para pemimpin daripada Rangkaian Karyawan MENDAKI. 


  21. Tuan Pengerusi, Mendaki akan terus menyokong masyarakat Melayu/Islam kita untuk terus mencapai kecemerlangan dan memperkasa masyarakat untuk menjadi warganegara yang aktif dan yang menyumbang.

  22. Namun, setiap individu harus memainkan peranan untuk memastikan masyarakat kita dapat terus maju bersama.

  23. Saya amat mengalu-alukan para pekerja Melayu/Islam kita untuk merebut pelbagai peluang bagi mempertingkatkan lagi kemahiran mereka melalui inisiatif yang diumumkan semasa Belanjawan 2024 baru-baru ini.

    • Misalnya, para pekerja pertengahan kerjaya, atau mid-careers, berusia 40 tahun dan ke atas yang ingin mempertingkatkan diri boleh menyertai Program Peningkatan SkillsFuture. Program ini menawarkan tokokan kredit SkillsFuture sebanyak $4,000 yang boleh digunakan untuk kursus-kursus yang tertentu.
    • Para pekerja yang ingin mengambil diploma sepenuh masa di politeknik, ITE dan institusi-institusi kesenian, juga dapat memanfaatkan subsidi yang dipertingkatkan oleh Pemerintah. 
    • Bagi mengimbangi kehilangan pendapatan bagi pekerja yang perlu menjalani latihan di luar waktu bekerja, Pemerintah juga akan menyediakan Elaun Bulanan untuk Latihan Pertengahan Kerjaya SkillsFuture, yang dihadkan kepada $3,000 sebulan, selama 24 bulan. 
  24. Para lulusan ITE juga boleh memanfaatkan Anugerah Kemajuan ITE bernilai $5,000 apabila mereka mendaftar ke program diploma, dan mendapat tambahan $10,000 apabila tamat pengajian.
  25. Saya yakin bahawa sebagai satu masyarakat, kita boleh memperkukuh budaya menyumbang. Dan, dengan kerjasama Pemerintah dan badan-badan masyarakat yang lain, dapat mempertingkatkan lagi pencapaian masyarakat kita dalam pendidikan, pembangunan profesional serta kepimpinan.

English Translation

Grooming Community Leadership for The Future

16. Our third strategy is to grow and develop leaders not only for our community, but for our country as well.

17. Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin asked for an update on the Tunas programme. 

18. MENDAKI started the Tunas Bersama M3 programme in 2022 to nurture the next generation of leaders of Malay/Muslim Organisations (MMOs). 

  • This 18-month programme not only equips emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and networks to contribute and lead their own organisations, but also supports them in taking on larger leadership roles in our wider community in the future. 
  • For example, they develop competencies in the areas of governance, fund raising, public communications, and change management, as well as have the opportunity to be mentored by senior leaders.

19. Our first cohort of 13 Tunas participants from various MMOs will complete their programme in April.

  • They applied their learning to seven community projects across the M3 Focus Areas. 
  • For example, through Project Dream On, Tunas participants worked with professionals from MENDAKI’s Professional Networks to provide Muslim youths aged 15 to 17 with sector-specific job shadowing opportunities, to help them expand their horizons in terms of the future job roles they could aspire to. 
  • Youth participants shared that this experience helped them grow as individuals, expand their range of interests, and better shape their future field of study and career plans. 

20. Building on the positive outcomes of this programme, we will welcome our second batch of Tunas participants in April this year, which will also include leaders from MENDAKI’s Professional Networks. 


21. Mr Chairman, MENDAKI will continue to support our Malay/Muslim community in reaching greater heights and empower the community to be active, contributing citizens. 

22. For our community to continue progressing together, this has to be a collective endeavour where everyone has a part to play. 

23. On this note, I strongly encourage our Malay/Muslim workers to take up the opportunities to upskill and reskill, that were recently announced during Budget 2024. 

  • Mid-career workers aged 40 and above looking at reskilling can consider the SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme, which includes a $4,000 SkillsFuture Credit top-up that can be used for selected courses.
  • There is also the Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy for workers to take on another full-time diploma at the Polytechnics, ITE and Arts Institutions. 
  • To offset income loss for workers who have to take time off work for training, the Government will also provide a monthly SkillsFuture Mid-Career Training Allowance, capped at $3,000, for up to 24 months.  

24. Our younger ITE graduates can also benefit through the ITE Progression Award of $5,000 upon enrolment and another $10,000 upon completion, when they upgrade through a diploma qualification.

25. I am confident that as a community, we can grow a culture of contribution, and in partnership with the Government and other partners, do much more together to support efforts in education, professional development, and community leadership.  

Last updated on 07 March 2024