While Covid-19 has made it necessary for many to embrace digitalisation, there are some who need help learning tools and skills of technology, and they should not be left behind, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Maliki Osman.
Digital inclusivity was one of the main concerns highlighted by participants during a virtual dialogue Dr Maliki and Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence Zaqy Mohamad had with members of the Malay/Muslim community yesterday.
The dialogue, Seizing Opportunities in the Age of Digital Transformation, was the first of two to take place under the Ciptasama@M3 programme, which aims to gather insights to be used in policy decisions.
Dr Maliki noted that participants had highlighted how groups such as the elderly and residents of rental flats were especially in danger of being excluded technologically, and said he was heartened to hear that participants were concerned about this.
“They reminded us that we must make sure that whatever we do, we must get to these vulnerable groups and… ensure that we walk the journey with them so they don’t get left behind,” he said.
The community has a role to play in this as well. Dr Maliki urged members of the community to reach out to those in danger of falling behind digitally and guiding them.
Introduced last year, Ciptasama@M3, or Co-creation@M3, is a Malay/Muslim-focused programme that aims to encourage the community’s participation in policymaking.
It is an initiative under the M3 collaboration by three key Malay/Muslim organisations: Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the People’s Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.
The roughly two-hour dialogue involved over 60 participants, who were divided into small groups to discuss issues on digital transformation and their experiences adapting during the pandemic.
Some participants highlighted challenges in getting members of the community to embrace learning more advanced skills and digitalisation.
One participant said there was a need to highlight the benefits of picking up new skills. She added that more engaging forms of media could be used to do so, such as popular social media platforms like Instagram.
Mr Zaqy acknowledged that there could be some issues over how the Government communicates its messaging, and that this will be looked at.
He also noted that many in the dialogue spoke about resilience in the community in the face of Covid-19 and technological disruptions, and held up how Malay/Muslims here have learnt to adapt.
“I think it’s quite wonderful to see many who are quite positive about the situation. Positive in the sense that while times are bleak and hard, many, too, saw prospects or opportunities, despite the situation,” he said.
The second dialogue will focus on strengthening Malay/Muslim families. It will be chaired by Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim and Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam next Tuesday.
The dialogues are being held in conjunction with the Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations, in which Singaporeans share their hopes and plans for a more caring, cohesive, and resilient post-coronavirus society by co-creating policy solutions.