Three new Malay MPs given roles in Mendaki

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, 52, Mendaki's new deputy chairman, will work with Malay MPs to help the Malay/Muslim community better prepare themselves for opportunities in the economy of the future.

"We will be thinking of strategies for the future, and how we can help the community progress," he told reporters yesterday, when his appointment was announced by the self-help group's chairman, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, 60.

Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, told reporters Mr Masagos will also guide the three new Malay PAP MPs - Mr Saktiandi Supaat, Ms Rahayu Mahzam, and Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin - in new roles helming advisory committees within Mendaki. Mr Masagos, Mr Saktiandi and Ms Rahayu were also appointed to Mendaki's board with effect from Oct 1.

Mr Saktiandi, 41, an economist, will advise the future ready committee, which will help the community tap the national SkillsFuture initiative. He also hopes to help inculcate a culture of lifelong learning.

Mr Masagos said SkillsFuture was "a programme that will benefit all citizens, but for the Muslim community, we want to raise awareness of it so we can make use of it in facing a changing and challenging economic landscape".

Ms Rahayu, 35, former deputy registrar of the Syariah Court, will help with the Empowerment Programme for Girls, which seeks to boost the confidence of female students from needy backgrounds. The lawyer hopes to rope in more young professionals to help mentor these students, as well as get their friends and families involved.

Mr Amrin, 37, also a lawyer by training, will be adviser for professional outreach at Mendaki Club. He wants to understand the aspirations of young professionals and come up with activities to get more of them involved in the community.

Dr Yaacob said these committees signal that Mendaki is paying attention to the future and the young, and is looking to align its programmes with national initiatives.

The self-help group's focus will always remain on education, he said, but noted that the education landscape is changing with new schemes like SkillsFuture.

Mendaki's role includes making sure the community understands these schemes and taps them.

"If there are specific gaps, we will step in to fill the gaps. More important is to help them take advantage of what is available," he said.

He visited ITE College Central with the three new advisers yesterday to launch Youth Space@ITE, a drop-in centre set up by the college and Mendaki to engage students of all races, organise activities for them and put them in touch with mentors to guide them.

Dr Yaacob hoped the new faces can engage as many young people and professionals as possible. He urged them to "be creative, think out of the box... have discussions with as wide a cross-section as possible of the younger generation to get their views".

Mendaki also announced that three board members - Mr Alwi Abdul Hafiz, and MPs Intan Azura Mokhtar and Zainal Sapari - will step down from its board.

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