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  • Syazwan Zainal Shah from ELEVEN

Aspirations of the Malay-Muslim Community

During the annual National Day Rally, we were updated about the progress of the Malay-Muslim community in various domains such as educational and professional qualifications, and in recent times, home ownership. In these rallies, national statistics and comparisons across various domains mentioned earlier are often flashed out and more often than not, as a form of acknowledgement and encouragement of how the Malay-Muslim community has progressed.

For me, I appreciate these rallies because it provides a useful indicator of how our community has grown throughout the years. However, I am unsure whether 1) these indicators truly capture our individual and collective aspirations for the community, 2) should these indicators be our aspirations regardless of our individual or collective aspirations for the community, or 3) our views on these indicators as a community if they are not in line with said aspirations.

Understandably, this is not a straightforward issue to deliberate on but to begin to answer this question, we need to come together as a community and understand each other’s aspirations and goals to truly decide how and where we want to steer our community towards. This needs to involve all segments of the community regardless of age, gender, academic qualifications and socio-economic status.

In gathering this input, we have to be clear and open with the concept of ‘aspirations’ and be aware of our own implicit biases and assumptions of the different segments of the community. This means that we will need to navigate through difficult and generally uncomfortable topics such as how we individually define success and how much priority we place on achieving it individually.

More importantly, we may need to go beyond these responses and understand the reasons behind such responses. If there seems to be a common trend amongst a certain segment of our community, perhaps a closer study is warranted to possibly identify a systemic or structural issue within the system.

With all of these inputs, we will then have to deliberate whether these definitions are in-line with the current direction the community is heading towards (using the various indicators such as education qualification as a proxy) and if not, what does this mean for the community? Should our definitions be nudged towards a certain direction? Or how do we manage any possible differences between our understanding of aspirations and these proxy indicators?

Nonetheless, as a member of the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore, I hope that all of us continue to grow and achieve our individual ‘aspirations’ while ensuring no one in the community is left behind.

And as our community continues to grow and mature, we need to continue to reach out and support each other in the highs and lows we experience in life. No matter how difficult it is, each of us needs to move beyond striving for our individual pursuits and involve ourselves with the needs of the community— and that is my aspiration for the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore.


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