Chief Executive's Open Letter - Upholding Good Governance, Serving the Community Better

Assalamualaikum wr wb

Dear Friends and stakeholders of Muis,

At the Muis Workplan seminar in May during the last few days of Ramadan, we released a video about emerging stronger together from the crisis. We received very positive feedback, and many in the community felt that despite the trying times and sacrifices we had to make as a community during Ramadan and Hari Raya, we would emerge even stronger in the years to come. We also provided updates on how Muis is improving our support for our Asatizah and strengthening our religious institutions. We could not have come this far without your support and contributions.

In response to queries and requests by fellow leaders and stakeholders, I thought it would be timely to provide further updates to what was shared earlier at our Workplan seminar, in our work to strengthen Muis, our mosques and madrasahs in the area of governance. In these complex and challenging times, we must continue to protect and strengthen our religious institutions so that they can continue to serve the community. To do this, we must uphold the highest standards of integrity through good governance and zero tolerance for any form of fraud and/or corruption.

As a statutory board, Muis is required to put in place strong and sound financial and HR governance procedures. Every year, we engage external auditors and our financial statements have to be presented to Parliament by 30 June, which are also published on our website. We also have a systematic plan of internal audits, and an Audit Committee chaired by a Muis Council member to scrutinise the findings.

As a public institution, Muis is also subject to audits by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO). In the last audit in 2018, there was no evidence of fraud uncovered. However, some procedural lapses were discovered, and we have been actively addressing these findings. A Taskforce that I chair, comprising key leaders in Muis, has been making steady progress, and all the observations by AGO are on track to be fully addressed by the end of this year.

  Under AMLA, all mosques in Singapore are vested in Muis, and my colleagues have been working hard with our mosque volunteer leaders in the various mosque management boards to continuously strengthen mosque financial governance. Mosques are required to undergo audits and display their audited financial statements. Alhamdullilah, the financial governance of our mosques has also shown significant progress over the decades.

  In 2015, 77% of our mosques had financial statements which were clean (unqualified). For FY2019, we have managed to bring this number to 99%, and only one mosque received a qualified statement. In fact, at the start of 2019, I challenged mosque leaders to work together to ensure that all mosques have unqualified financial statements within 3 years. I am confident that with the dedicated leaders in our mosques, we will be able to achieve this target.

  Strengthening the financial governance of our madrasahs is an ongoing effort, and together we have achieved many improvements. Through the Joint Madrasah System (JMS), Muis ensures that the accounts of JMS madrasahs are audited annually. Muis also extended a Comprehensive Assistance Package to Madrasah Wak Tanjong in 2018 and this included support to ensure strong financial governance processes and annual audits.

  Nevertheless, even with improved systems and processes, we may fall short at times. Even with a sound financial system in place, lapses will occur if there is a lack of integrity of those operating the system. Thus, as a public institution, we hold our officers to the highest standards of integrity. We hold our mosque volunteer leaders to the same standards when they are appointed to their roles and undertake their oath of appointment. Where lapses arise, we will look into the matter seriously to ascertain the facts and thereafter act in a fair and impartial manner to put things right. We have also not hesitated to report matters to the authorities for further investigation.

  As a public institution that is set up for the Muslim community in Singapore, and made up of members of the community, we will continue to serve the community to the best of our abilities.

  This COVID-19 crisis has led us to reflect on how we can continue to best serve the community in the midst of change, including re-examining our systems and processes. It has spurred us to improve in serving and engaging the community better. We also strive to communicate better with our stakeholders such as yourselves.

  This is something we are committed to. Together, we aim to work with our leaders, the staff and volunteers across our mosques and madrasahs to build up and uphold the trust the community has in us and serve the needs of the Muslim community in Singapore. Out of this crisis, we must emerge stronger together. This is our Amanah to ourselves, our community and ultimately to our Creator. May He guide us all on this sincere endeavour.

  Thank you for your support and walking this journey with us in building a Muslim community of success that inspires and radiates blessings to all. If you have any feedback or suggestions on how Muis can further improve, I invite you to share these suggestions with me.



Esa Masood
Chief Executive, Muis