Community Leadership / Malay-Muslim Community

Putting “Community” and “Leadership” Back in CLF

Today marked the commemoration of the 10th year of existence of the Community Leadership Forum (CLF).   A Convention was held with the tagline “A Community Connected: Renewing Common Purpose, Inspiring Engagement, Enabling Participation.”

I was underwhelmed by the Event.

I came with the high hopes that 2012 being the 10th year of existence, this “Convention” would set out CLF’s report card – what CLF has achieved (or not) over the last 10 years, the State of the Community (then and now), an analysis of the suite of services offered by CLF partners – whether they remained relevant or whether there are gaps. There was, however, none of that.

And so, participants at today’s Conference remain unenlightened as to how far CLF has achieved its stated Vision of “bringing about confident, creative and self reliant individuals and families, anchored in Islamic faith and values, for a Community of Excellence”.

I was also hoping that there would be discussion of where the MMC is now.  Whilst some of the gaps within the MMC and other communities have persisted since 2003, new ones have emerged.  2012 presents a very different landscape from 2003.  One cannot benchmark the relevance of CLF without reference to where the MMC is, and the environment it sits in.  Unfortunately, there was also none of that.

Nor was there any discussion of the vision where the MMC wants to be 10 years down the road, and how the CLF (with its partners) can play a role in that.

Instead, there were discussions at the program level – which were mostly takeaways and learning points by individual program “owners”.

There was nothing wrong with this.  Except that discussing individual programs without referring to higher level strategic discussions of where the MMC is, and where it wants to be, is vacuous and even self-indulgent.  The Malay term, “shiok sendiri” seems apt in the circumstances.  It is meaningless to discuss the programs without a discussion on the relevance of these programs in  improving the state of the MMC.


CLF has tremendous potential, as a community-wide platform, to lead the community.  The concept of “leadership” is rightly set out as one of the elements of CLF.  But without any discussion of the state of the MMC now, or where it wants to be, and how MMOs can play their roles to achieve that vision, there can be no leadership.


Another curious aspect of the CLF is the lack of strategic engagement of MMC stakeholders in the lead up to the “Convention”.  When I raised this question at the CLF, the Mendaki CEO replied that there had been 8 (plus 3 sharing sessions) instances of engagement before the “Convention”.  I was later told that these discussions were at the Program level, and not strategic discussions as to where the MMC wants to be, and how MMOs can play that role.

Today’s “Convention” should be more appropriately labelled as a “Sharing Session”.  There was hardly any time and opportunity for the 250-odd participants to debate the matters presented, let alone engage in vision/mission setting and to discuss strategies for the next 10 years.  Whilst there were stated objectives to have a “community connected”  by  “inspiring engagement” and “enabling participation”, there was a disconnect in the way in which today’s “Convention” was run.

The CLF as a community platform must be owned by the Community.  This means Community involvement in setting the strategic direction of the CLF.

There have earlier been calls for the CLF Executive Committee, which currently consists exclusively of PAP Malay MPs, to be opened up, to include a broader representation of the MMC.

Perhaps it is timely, in light of CLF’s 10th year of existence, for this issue to be revisited.

At the end of today’s session, a CLF Partner walked up to me and remarked that I had raised good issues, which he had himself wanted to raise.  He added “I cannot ask that question as I get funding from the CLF”.  Sadly, he is not the only one.  Some other MMO representatives have remarked that they rely on CLF on funding, and therefore could not support the proposal for a Community Forum, an independent platform which was seen as competing with the CLF.

The concepts of “Community” and “Leadership” must be returned to the CLF, for it to remain relevant and effective, and for it to be in the heart of the Community.


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