Speech by Minister for Social and Family Development, Second Minister for Health and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs at M³ Networking Dinner on 12 Sep 2023
President Halimah Yacob and Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalamualaikum wr. wb.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to the M³ networking dinner tonight. We are honoured to have President Halimah Yacob and Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee to join us.
Importance of M³ in Singapore
Madam President has always been a strong supporter of our community way before she was an elected Member of Parliament, like many of our generation that have done well. Many like her give back to society. Today we have refreshed our community’s social compact through the establishment of the M3 initiative started 5 years ago.
Volunteers are the Heart of M³
Our volunteers are the backbone and heart of M³. I am happy to see many familiar faces tonight. They have done well in life and have stepped up to volunteer with M³ and gave meaning to active citizenry. Just like Madam President. There are now over 800 M³ volunteers across the 11 M³@Towns and many more from the mosques, Mendaki and other organisations, all working tirelessly with other agencies including People’s Association grassroots organisations and community partners, to provide last-mile service to those who need help within our community. In addition, professional groups including doctors, lawyers, IT professionals and many more work with Mendaki. Even our pilots in Singapore Airlines have stepped forward. Thank you.
Strengthening our network of community partners is also critical, such as the MMOs and IMOs that work with our volunteers to support the many vulnerable segments of our community. They play an important role of aggregating resources, bringing people together and implementing various programmes and initiatives to encourage and allow the Malay/Muslim community to progress together.
Tribute to Madam President
This evening, I would like to pay a special tribute to Madam President, whose life and career is an example of how she embodies the values of the 3Cs.
Madam President started her political career in 2001 and has served as the Member of Parliament in both Jurong GRC and Marsiling- Yew Tee GRC. In 2013, she was the elected Speaker of Parliament before becoming the President of Singapore in 2017. Before this, she was a champion for our labour causes working in NTUC. Many, however, will remember her as a champion of causes close to her heart, ranging from mental health issues to help for disadvantage groups.
Over the years, Madam President has contributed to various initiatives by M³, Malay/Muslim organisations and charities. Apart from the enriching dialogues she has helmed with various members in the community, from our youths to professionals to seniors, she has also helped to raise funds to uplift the vulnerable and cultivated the spirit of active citizenry among us.
Her dedication though was to the larger society - to inclusivity, diversity, and social harmony that strengthened the fabric of our society. Her compassion and empathy has also touched the lives of many. Under her watch, the President’s Challenge has focused on empowering people with disabilities, building a digitally inclusive society and supporting caregivers, among other causes. Passionate about gender equality, Madam President champions efforts which enable women to thrive in today’s competitive environment. She spoke in support of the White Paper on Singapore’s Women Development released by the Government last year. Madam President has also been a strong proponent of building interfaith relationships and encouraging multicultural dialogue. In 2019, she mooted the International Conference on Cohesive Societies which has since brought people together to discuss topics such as faith, identity, and social cohesion.
What our nation will remember Madam President is her steadfast leadership because she was instrumental as we steered our country through a global pandemic. She gave the critical assent to the Government to draw down on past reserves, not once but five times. This was the final and most important shield we needed to protect lives and livelihoods affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Her decisive and timely response has enabled Singapore to emerge stronger from the pandemic. Better than any country I know. Her role demonstrated that the critical role of the President is not just about keeping the reserves locked from being used frivolously, but also to know when and for what to release it.
On behalf of everyone present today, my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to Madam President for your immense contributions to the community and country!
In Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s recent National Day Rally speech, he spoke about how our founding fathers were driven by a new spirit; a desire to come together with the determination to overcome challenges and a willingness to work for a brighter future. We too will need this same reinvigorated spirit, or ‘Semangat yang Baru’, to take our community and nation forward together. With the same values that our founding fathers displayed, I am confident that we will continue to do what it takes to work towards making our Community of Success a reality. I would like to urge the young leaders of today to follow in the footsteps of a key leader like Madam President, who is a beacon of light and a shining example for our community to emulate and look up to.
With that, I hope everyone here will have a good opportunity to network while enjoying the food and the programme for the evening. Thank you.