Dramatic progress by Malay/Muslim community

BY RACHEL AU-YONG, Straits Times

THE Malay/Muslim community has “progressed dramatically” in the 50 years since Mr Yusof Ishak was president, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday, as he expressed confidence that it would continue moving ahead through education and training.

Speaking in Malay, he cited how household incomes had risen steadily and more Malay/Muslims were making it to post-secondary education and becoming professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

“Each year I look for examples of Malay/Muslims who have excelled in different fields. It’s a noticeable trend – there are more and more examples, year by year,” he said.

This year, 35 graduates from local universities got first-class honours, and two caught his eye.

Mr Lee cited National University of Singapore law graduate Afzal Ali, 25, now a pupil at top firm Allen & Gledhill, and Nanyang Technological University biological sciences graduate Fauziah Ally, 22, who went to a polytechnic and is now a researcher at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology.

Ms Fauziah later said: “Like many others, I just want to work hard and provide for my family. I found my passion through science. Anyone can do it, once they have that motivating factor.”

Despite these positive trends, Mr Lee also highlighted some challenges, citing health in particular.

“Hypertension, diabetes, obesity are all too prevalent,” he said, referring to conditions where Malay patients are over-represented.

But he acknowledged there was a greater awareness of health, sharing how those around him at a recent breaking of fast were watching carefully what they ate.

He noted more Malays were making it to university, and more polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education students wanted to move up. He said: “We are helping more of them to do so… By working together, I am confident we can continue to progress. That is how the community has thrived over the past 50 years.”

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