Friday, 11 November 2016

Good news for community as Association of Muslim Professionals celebrates silver jubilee

Association looks forward to first Malay president at next election
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 10 Nov 2016

It was double the joy at the Association of Muslim Professionals' (AMP) 25th anniversary charity dinner last night. As the organisation marked its silver jubilee, members had another cause for cheer: Next year's presidential election could give Singapore its first Malay president in close to five decades.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the dinner's guest of honour, told guests he hoped to see qualified Malay candidates step up to serve in the highest office in the land and represent all Singaporeans.

Speaking a day after he told Parliament the 2017 election would be reserved for Malay candidates, Mr Lee said: "I look forward to a Malay president in Singapore again. It will strengthen our multiracial society. And I hope we will continue to work together as one people, overcome our challenges and help one another to progress together."

His remarks came as Parliament approved changes to the Constitution that include the introduction of reserved elections to ensure all races are represented in the office.

"Now that the amendment has been passed, we will bring the legislation into effect in due course, in time for the presidential election next year," said Mr Lee.

"This is a historic exercise for Singapore, and is important to the future of our multiracial society."

Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin told reporters next year's election is a golden opportunity for the community to put forward some of its best.

He welcomed the change, noting that some in the community have expressed concern about the lack of Malay representation in various fields. "There's also a need for us to know there's still a lot of work to be done and work together," he added.

AMP chairman Abdul Hamid Abdullah added: "It's not just important for Singapore. It's also important for the way we project ourselves to the region. Although there's a Chinese majority, we're also a multiracial country."

Mr Lee, in his speech, paid tribute to AMP and the valuable role it plays in helping the community progress. He recalled how when he met Mr Hamid and Young AMP president Shamir Rahim for lunch with Malay leaders at the Istana last week, he was pleased to hear about one of their initiatives: Common Space, an incubator to groom start-ups from the community.

"It's good that AMP is exploring new, innovative ways to help the Malay/Muslim community to participate in our economy," he said. "That's what we must have in our multiracial society: everyone progressing and nobody left behind."

In his speech, Mr Hamid recounted AMP's bumpy road. When it first started out, for instance, it once did not have the funds to pay its staff.

"Thankfully, our activists stepped forward and paid our staff with their own money," he said.

Things have changed. AMP has consistently hit an average of $10 million in revenue a year over the last five years, and served over 300,000 clients and beneficiaries.

Mr Hamid said future plans include working more closely with national organisations and helping the community weather the challenges of the future economy.

"Many have been retrenched or made redundant in recent months. This is an area AMP will be focusing on in the coming year - to help our community ride this wave of uncertainty and come out stronger."

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