In a recent online discussion hosted by Mendaki, some interesting questions were asked in regard to the overall financial awareness of Singaporeans and in specific the Malay community. The fact that the online discussion covered this topic was no surprise. With recent changes to the Central Provident Fund and recent studies that indicate that many Singaporeans have concerns about their retirement, financial planning and awareness have seen broad coverage in both the news and on social media formats.
Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister in-charge of Muslim Affairs, took part in the online discussion and he took the time to answer the questions of participants who voiced concerns regarding the changes to the CPF. During the discussion and in a following press event, the minister pointed to the need for individual responsibility and financial planning that goes beyond participation in the CPF scheme.
Along with general interest in financial literacy within the Malay community, some participants also spoke on financial concerns in relation to the cost of education. Some feel that there may be a need to start a program to help parents save for the education of their children in order to avoid the burdensome loans that often come with higher education.
While the a variety of social outreach groups like Mendaki and the government do offer programs to educate the public about finances, education and other social issues, it seems that some in the community feel like these programs are not meeting their needs or that they lack some level of effectiveness. Part of the problem could be that many of the people that would benefit the most from these programs are unaware that they exist and that they unsure of how they can help them. If this is the case, it speaks to a continued need to reach out to the community and to provide them with the information that they need in order to take advantage of these programs.
Even with the concerns that were raised during the discussion, the consensus of the discussion did seem to be that the Malay community has made some advancement toward addressing these problems. The overall tone reflected more of a feeling that the Malay community was falling behind the rest of society when it comes to certain financial and educational goals.