New group for Malaysians here to meet, network

New group for Malaysians here to meet, network
Malaysian Association in Singapore (Masis) president Abraham Vergis (in red) and patron Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob at the association’s launch on 31 October 2014.

While home may be just across the Causeway, Malaysians living here can be even closer to their homeland, with a new association that plans to organise food fairs, sports events and cultural activities for the community here.

The Malaysian Association in Singapore (Masis), which was officially launched yesterday, will also be a platform for Malaysian businesses to network.

It will also offer help to newcomers, including students, as they settle here.

Masis president Abraham Vergis hopes to see between 500 and 1,000 new members this year.

Over half a million Malaysians are estimated to be living in Singapore. About a million Malaysians live overseas.

Malaysia's High Commissioner to Singapore, Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob, is the association's patron. The idea for Masis was mooted about a year ago, but it faced scepticism from some who felt that Malaysia is "too close" to Singapore, Mr Husni added.

"But I thought otherwise. An association is useful, wherever we are. Masis can be a platform or avenue for Malaysians who are here... for exchange of ideas, for all of us to meet and interact," he said.

Mr Husni said that Masis' formation is timely, given that bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore are at an all-time high.

He cited the importance of Singapore as a trading partner and investor in Malaysia.

Masis activities, he said, will offer participants value and allow them to stay in touch with events back home.

For example, Masis members will be invited to a talk by Malaysian officials later this year on the new Goods and Services Tax that will be introduced next April.

Malaysians attending the events can invite Singaporean guests.

Membership, which starts at $120 a year, will also be extended to Singaporeans who are former Malaysians or who have Malaysian family members.

Masis may organise tours for Singaporeans to places like Taman Negara and Kukup.

"Masis is meant to be inclusive, as opposed to exclusive. We are not an inward-looking group," Mr Vergis said.

This article was first published on Nov 1, 2014.
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