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More young Malays taking advantage of IT, starting new companies: PM

SINGAPORE Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech this year placed emphasis on pre-school education, the combat against diabetes and turning the country into a Smart Nation.

Opening the rally in Malay on Sunday, PM Lee said he is glad more Malay children are now attending preschool, as a good pre-school system will enable everyone to compete fairly in the country's meritocratic system, benefit from Singapore's progress, making it a society of opportunities and hope for everyone.

He said the government is raising the quality of preschools and creating more pre-school places, yet keeping them affordable.

Speaking at the ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio, PM Lee said Singapore also wants to make use of information technology (IT) to create opportunities.

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Many Malay students in the tertiary institutes, he said, are doing technical courses, but courses such as software engineering, data science and digital art would stand them in good stead in the new economy. For those who are already in the workforce, PM Lee said the government will help upgrade them through SkillsFuture.

He said the government is happy to see more young Malays taking advantage of IT and starting new companies in various sectors.

But he pointed out that the community needs to get its health in order.

PM Lee highlighted that while 10 per cent of Singaporeans suffer from diabetes, what is alarming is the disease affect almost 20 per cent of the Malays.

One reason: Obesity is also more prevalent among the Malays.

He said that diabetes cannot be cured, only controlled and warned that if it is not well-controlled, many complications can arise and endanger one's life.

He said while Malay-Muslim organisations have been working with the Health Ministry in spreading the message about diabetes, the government can only do so much and that it was up to the individual to watch his or her own lifestyle and diet.

PM Lee said the collective resolve will help Singapore tackle the challenges it faces and progress as one united people - something that Yusof Ishak, the first President, envisioned 50 years ago.

He said if all goes well, another distinguished Malay Singaporean will become the next President and he hopes he, or she, will bring as much distinction and be as well-loved as Yusof Ishak.