SINGAPORE: The Government will work with community stakeholders to make Geylang Serai more culturally distinctive, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, as he revealed plans to make the place “even more vibrant and special”.
In his Malay speech at the National Day Rally on Sunday (Aug 19), Mr Lee said “we can do more to make Geylang Serai a culturally distinctive precinct, stretching from the Tanjong Katong Complex to Kampong Ubi CC”.
“WGS (Wisma Geylang Serai) can use the open field and car park next door for activities,” he added, referring to the new Malay-Muslim social, cultural and heritage hub beside the iconic Geylang Serai market.
“We can beautify and coordinate night lighting, and turn the junction in front of WGS into a landmark to create a distinctive feel and sense of arrival.”
South East District Mayor Maliki Osman, who is also Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, will lead the project and work with local merchants, Government agencies and MESRA, the People’s Association’s Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.
“He will also engage the Malay community and other Singaporeans to solicit ideas and make recommendations to the Government,” Mr Lee said. “I am sure that the next time I visit, Geylang Serai will be even more vibrant and special.”
“WGS will be a centre for Malay activities, an icon that the community can be proud of,” he added.
It will officially open in January 2019.
The WGS will also host a joint-office for the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and self-help group Mendaki, which Mr Lee described as a first step towards having Malay-Muslim organisations (MMO) work together and improve their services for the community.
This new partnership, called M3, involves MUIS, Mendaki and MESRA combining their resources and volunteers and collaborating with the Government and other MMOs, Mr Lee said.
“By doing so, they can make even more headway in tackling the challenges the community faces,” he explained.
“These challenges include getting more young children to attend pre-school, empowering and mentoring youth, and supporting those who are left behind because of drugs or social problems.”
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In addition, the WGS will host a one-stop service centre jointly run by seven MMOs, including the Association of Muslim Professionals, Creative Malay Arts and Culture and Tabung Amal Aidilfitri, which collects donations and distributes them to the needy during Ramadan.
This centre will serve multiple needs of the community and help improve the lives of residents, the Ministry of Communications and Information said in a statement on Sunday.
“There is also opportunity for better collaboration on social assistance programmes and synergy to build better programmes for the community,” it added.
Mr Lee called M3 a “positive development” that will need the community’s support to succeed.
“Individually, each (organisation) continues to make major contributions to the community’s progress by looking after their cultural, religious, educational and social needs,” he said.
“I hope more Malays will contribute to the community through M3, whether you are new volunteers or activists already in the mosques and various Malay-Muslim organisations.”