Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kampung spirit in jointly tackling big issues

Kampung spirit in jointly tackling big issues

THE Malay-Muslim community has unique values that it can share with the greater Singapore community.

These values - which include a strong sense of family and the spirit of gotong royong or mutual help - mean the community can take the lead in bringing back the kampung spirit to help deal with big issues as a community. This was one of the main takeaways of a two-hour dialogue session that was held yesterday for the Malay-Muslim community to discuss matters raised in last week's National Day Rally speeches.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs speaking to reporters after the closed-door event, said that he was encouraged by the level of discussion and the community's willingness to share its values with other communities.

"There was a lot of discussion about the values we hold as Malay-Muslims and how that can be shared with other communities, and how we can also show them something positive for people to perceive of our own community," said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts.

The dialogue - which also included several Malay MPs - was attended by 300 grassroots leaders, mosque representatives and members of Malay-Muslim organisations.

On the subject of Singapore's declining birthrate - another issue raised at the Rally - Dr Yaacob said while it was important to help keep the rate up, families need to also consider the quality of a child's upbringing.

He said: "The concern is that we should take this opportunity to ensure that the families that we create are families that are constructive and children that can contribute to society."

Another point that was discussed was instances of perceived discrimination against the Malay-Muslim community, particularly in the military.

To this, he said that Malay MPs do hold meetings with Mindef officers and PM Lee to discuss such matters and the community's concerns.

He added that these were not new concerns, citing a complaint made recently that an individual was turned away from an army camp because he was Malay. Subsequent investigation showed, however, that it was a miscommunication.

He said what was important was for everyone to deal with the issue quickly whenever it crops up rather than let it fester. "I think raising it earlier to us so that we can try and solve it as quickly as possible is important," he said.


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