Malay/Muslim community has managed Covid-19 crisis well, well-placed to overcome other challenges: Masagos

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SINGAPORE - The Malay/Muslim community has managed the Covid-19 crisis well and is in good stead to overcome other challenges, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli.

In order to help community members continue progressing further, he announced on Friday (May 13)enhancements to several programmes in areas such as education and health.

"We can draw many important and valuable lessons from the pandemic. In my view, we have reached where we are today because we did it with knowledge, care and discipline. Indeed, these are the fundamentals that the month of Ramadan has built in us for the many years that we have been fasting," said Mr Masagos, who is Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health.

He was speaking at his annual Hari Raya get-together for about 400 community and religious leaders, which was held at the Pan Pacific Singapore in Raffles Boulevard. This was the first time that the event was held physically after a two-year hiatus brought by the pandemic.

The community needs to be more concerned with the early education of its children, as well as lifelong learning, stressed Mr Masagos. "Improving our knowledge is important as we face an unpredictable future due to the impact of Covid-19 and economic uncertainties following the war in Ukraine," he said.

But knowledge alone is not enough, and the community must be driven by a religious sector that is competent. The minister announced that the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) will be expanding the Sheikh Isa Semait scholarship, which supports high-performing madrasah students to pursue undergraduate studies at prestigious Islamic universities abroad.

"A million dollars will be set aside every year to award the scholarship to undergraduate students with potential in the religious sector. The scholarship will be offered to the top candidates starting this year. Graduates with potential may be offered scholarships for their postgraduate studies," said Mr Masagos, adding that more details will be announced later.

Separately, a team from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), led by scholars Dr Muhammad Nadjad Abdul Rahim and Associate Professor Yusuf Ali, is currently at work to develop youth talent from the community in the field of health science data, added Mr Masagos.

This initiative, which is being carried out through health programmes in Ta...

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