Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Anugerah MENDAKI and Launch of Raikan Ilmu 2021 on 2 October 2021.
Minister Masagos Zulkifli,
SMS Zaqy Mohamad,
MENDAKI CEO Mdm Zuraidah Abdullah
Parents and students,
I am delighted to be here at this year's Anugerah MENDAKI and the Launch of Raikan Ilmu 2021.
Building a Community of Success
This is the second year that the Anugerah MENDAKI award ceremony is held against the backdrop of COVID-19. The pandemic continues to disrupt countless lives and livelihoods around the world. But it is precisely in tough moments like these, that we must come together to celebrate our successes. So I am glad that we are still able to gather today in hybrid format.
Over the years, the Malay/Muslim community has made tremendous progress in building a “Community of Success”, or Masyarakat Gemilang. Findings from Census 2020 showed that the community has made significant strides in education. In particular, 53 per cent of Malay youths obtained university degrees or diplomas, up from 35 per cent a decade ago. With rising education levels, more Malays are now holding highly-skilled jobs, translating into higher incomes over time.
These are achievements that the community is rightly proud of. But the work is never done, and we must continue to nurture each new generation to achieve even greater heights. It is therefore fitting that we are giving out the Anugerah MENDAKI awards today. This award was introduced almost four decades ago in 1982, in the same year that MENDAKI was founded, to recognise and encourage Malay/Muslim students who had excelled in their academic studies. Over the years, the award has been further expanded to also celebrate achievements in non-academic fields, such as sports, music, design, literary, and the arts.
This year we celebrate the achievements of 496 award recipients who have excelled in both academic and non-academic areas. Their achievements are all the more significant, given the challenges that the pandemic has posed. Many of them have had to adapt and adjust along the way, showing grit and resilience.
Take for example Sudiardi Sudyono, who is one of the award recipients today. Sudiardi’s pursuit of his passion in film-making started in ITE Central. He worked part-time while studying for a Higher NITEC in Filming. He subsequently completed his diploma in Temasek Polytechnic, and was accepted into a UK university to pursue a degree in film production. Unfortunately, before he left for UK, he met with an accident and had to defer his studies. While recovering, he worked in a production company to gain more experience, hone his skills and build industry networks. After he recovered, COVID-19 threw his plans into further disarray. But he was not disheartened. He persisted and is now in the UK, on his way to completing his degree.
This is just one of the many examples of the never-give-up spirit exemplified by our award winners this year. Congratulations, and well done! I am confident that the awards today will spur them on to even greater excellence in their chosen fields. Just as important, I hope that their stories will serve as an inspiration to other youths to similarly aim high.
“Gotong Royong” Spirit
As our youths pursue their dreams and reach for the stars, I encourage them to pay it forward when they succeed. They can inspire the next generation by being good role models and mentors. They can also start new projects, in areas they are passionate about, to contribute back to the community. In this way, we refresh and strengthen the “gotong royong” spirit for a new era.
I am heartened that many of the award recipients today are already doing this. Take Nur Hidayah Sarifudin for instance. She is pursuing a degree in social work at SUSS, and plans to make a career in the community care sector. Hidayah has been volunteering with Fei Yue Community Service for some years, to support youth who face emotional distress. Another example is Reena Chandini. She is also MENDAKI’s Valedictorian this year. Reena graduated from NUS this year, and was an active volunteer helping individuals with special needs. For example, in her work with Special Olympics Singapore, she mentored differently-abled athletes to achieve their fullest potential.
I am glad that community organisations, including MENDAKI, are also providing more opportunities for youths to step forward to serve. For example, MENDAKI together with your M-cube partners MUIS and MESRA, has set up the Youth Mentoring Office to provide opportunities for youths to serve as mentors. MENDAKI is also leading an upcoming programme, the Tunas Bersama M3, by equipping the next generation of Malay/Muslim Organisation leaders with the knowledge, skills and networks. The first batch of 15 young leaders will be taking part early next year.
Beyond empowering our youths, I am also heartened to see that MENDAKI has broadened your outreach to various segments of the community. There is something for everyone.
A good example is the Raikan Ilmu movement. The Raikan Ilmu, which celebrates the spirit of lifelong learning, has been held annually in the month of October since 2019. The pandemic has not stopped this movement, and I am honoured to open the Raikan Ilmu 2021 today.
MENDAKI and its partners have prepared various learning activities for all age groups during the month-long campaign. For school-going children – there will be interactive reading activities to encourage their love of learning. There are also other hands-on activities, such as handicraft workshops. For jobseekers – the Cari Kerja app was created last year to help the community find job openings during the COVID-19 crisis. The app continues to be a useful platform that showcases job opportunities in growth sectors such as healthcare, logistics, cybersecurity and others. There are also workshops to share about growth industries, and how to develop new skills.
I urge everyone to rally your family members and friends to participate in these activities and learn together. I also hope more will pledge your commitment to this movement of embracing lifelong learning as part of our culture. Your pledge can be as simple as pledging to read a book or sharing your skill with a friend or family member. I am personally pledging my commitment to stay curious, and keep learning!
In conclusion, I would like to once again congratulate all Anugerah recipients for their achievements. Tahniah! I urge all of them to build on their success, and to pursue new horizons. Teruskan kejayaan anda! But having done well, I encourage them to also contribute back and do their part to strengthen the “gotong royong” spirit. Many are already doing so. Keep it up! Syabas!
Lastly, we must not forget that the success of each generation requires a whole-of-society effort to nurture. As our educators are fond of saying, it takes a village to raise a child. So I would like to thank all parents, family members, teachers, and MENDAKI for their unstinting efforts in helping our children reach for the stars.
I wish you all success ahead. Thank you.
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