Speech by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the Hari Raya Light-up 2021 on 9 April 2021.
Ladies and gentlemen
A very good evening.
Wisma Geylang Serai nadi bangsa,
Tangan dihulur, masyarakat dijaga;
Walau Ramadan disambut sederhana,
Semangat puasa tetap sama.
Thank you for inviting me to join you for this happy occasion. The pantun I just shared speaks of Wisma Geylang Serai as the pulse of the community. It reminds us that as we welcome the holy month of Ramadan, we should always care for those around us, especially during this pandemic.
Our Malay community – indeed all of Singapore – looks forward to the Hari Raya Light-Up each year. It brings beauty and vibrancy to Geylang Serai during Ramadan. This is a historic and beautiful neighbourhood, that celebrates the unique Malay heritage and culture of Singapore. And I am happy that Dr Maliki is leading the effort to breathe new life into the precinct.
Two years ago, when I visited the Geylang Serai Bazaar with Dr Maliki, the stalls offered not just traditional fares, but what Dr Maliki calls ‘hipster’ options that cater to the younger generation. The festive mood was shared not just by the Malay community, but people of all races. We must continue to cherish and strengthen our social cohesion. I look forward to visiting the Bazaar again physically when possible.
But while we are still in the midst of this pandemic, I am happy to see that we have innovated with new ways to celebrate. The Geylang Serai bazaar has gone digital again this year, so that more people can enjoy the bazaar. Last year’s online viewership numbered 11.6 million, and I still remember being a part of the very enjoyable E-Buka Show. This year, I’m told that the online programmes – led by Faishal – are even more exciting.
The Light-Up this year also has also added new meaning, as we look back at the challenges we have gone through together in the past year. We light up this year with, in the words of the pantun: tangan dihulur, masyarakat dijaga – With our hands stretching out to support, the community is protected.
Tangan Dihulur – Our Hands Wide Open in Care and SupportHow are we reaching out and achieving tangan dihulur? We have seen how important it is in this crisis, to look after one another, and care for the more vulnerable.
Wisma Geylang Serai and its Malay-Muslim Organisation partners in Kurnia@WGS continue to honour the Ramadan spirit of caring for the less fortunate. For example, through the Baju Kurung Charity Drive, Ramadan Hamper Distribution and Financial Assistance Schemes.
Wisma Geylang Serai is also an important node in M3@Geylang Serai, which was launched early this year. Today, we have 11 M3@Towns that will enhance outreach to families and vulnerable groups, working with government social infrastructures like ComLink and UPLIFT. I look forward to the set up of the M3 Engagement Coordination Office later this year, which will further strengthen outreach efforts with other Government programmes and Malay-Muslim organisations.
Minister Masagos has articulated the vision of ‘Masyarakat Gemilang’ for our Malay-Muslim community. Indeed, I have met many successful Malay-Muslims, who are successful in both their professions, as well as in contributing actively in community services. Let us continue to enlarge this group. As we invest efforts to develop the talent in our community, I encourage successful members of Malay-Muslim community to come forward and serve. By strengthening this spirit of “gotong royong”, our Malay-Muslim community will do even better.
Masyarakat Dijaga – A Community Kept Safe and WellAs for Masyarakat Dijaga – keeping our community safe and well – Wisma Geylang Serai has played a critical role here too.
Through the past year, Wisma Geylang Serai has helped to keep the community safe. For example, by serving the community and supporting PA-driven efforts like the Temporary Relief Fund disbursement, and the distribution of masks and hand sanitisers. Last month, it began operating as a Vaccination Centre. On my way here, we saw the residents waiting in line for their vaccinations.
It makes all of us feel assured that, even in these few minutes of our light-up ceremony, Singaporeans are getting vaccinated! I encourage everyone to get vaccinated when your turn comes.
Today’s launch of the Hari Raya Light-Up is a step forward.
Last year’s light installations were only partially put up, and the decision was made to keep the lights off because of concerns of social distancing. It was a difficult decision, taken to safeguard the well-being of our people. This year, all the light installations are up! We shall see this very soon. The organisers have taken great effort to make this happen – by putting in place the necessary safe management measures. I applaud you for the effort taken.
ConclusionLadies and gentlemen, in closing let me thank the Kembangan-Chai Chee, Marine Parade and Geylang Serai Citizens’ Consultative Committees for organising this event. I also commend Wisma Geylang Serai and your partners for reaching out to and protecting the well-being of the community.
As the lights go on over Geylang Serai tonight, may all our hearts come alight too – With gratitude for good health, with care for our families and community, and with determination to fight this pandemic.
My heartiest congratulations to the organisers, and my sincere wish for a blessed Ramadan to all Muslim friends.
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