ST Sep 3, 2007Personally I wonder whether a dysfunctional Malay family is so different from a dysfunctional Chinese or Indian family that social support and counselling etc needs to be divided along racial lines and administered by separate racial organisations (Mendaki, Sinda etc).
PM: Malay- Muslims now much better off
But problems such as dysfunctional families need to be tackled
By Li Xueying
THE past 25 years have seen a dramatic transformation in Singapore's Malay-Muslim community, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.
It is now a community 'confident that it is progressing with the others, and succeeding through its own efforts'.
But some pressing and spiky issues need to be urgently tackled, he said. Chief among these: dysfunctional families.
....... Sounding a sober note, Mr Lee observed that the problem of dysfunctional families manifests itself in many ways - divorce rates, single parents and the 'unacceptably high' number of teenage births.
Without a supportive home environment, youths drop out of school.
'This will permanently blight the child's life chances and risks perpetuating the problem into the next generation,' said Mr Lee.
In tackling this, self-help efforts are critical. So going forward, Mendaki needs to come up with new programmes and adjust existing ones.
...... Speaking to reporters later, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said a review of programmes on the dysfunctional family problem is under way to see where the gaps are.
'And if those gaps are critical and strategic to the community, we'll probably have to move our resources there,' he said.
One possible issue is the need to train people on the frontline. Malay organisations have told him they encounter such families when giving out aid, 'but they stop there'.
'Perhaps there is a lack of understanding and expertise in the Malay organisations to... deal with the families in a holistic manner,' said Dr Yaacob."
I imagine, for example, that a key part of the effort to reduce the number of teenage births would be sex education for teenagers. But I don't see how the content of the sex education programme would be very different for Malay, Chinese or Indian youths. They all make babies in approximately the same way.
But if different racial organisations all ran their own sex education programmes instead of pooling resources, well, counsellors' expertise in running such programmes can't be shared and there is less economy of scale.