Assalamualaikum Wr Wb
Dear Community leaders, friends and partners of Muis
1 A very good morning and thank you for joining us at today’s workplan seminar.
2 We are into the last few days of Ramadan, and the last weekend before Hari Raya. Taking your precious time on a Saturday morning to be here - means a lot to us - and speaks of your dedication and commitment to serve the community in your various capacities.
3 Muis is at heart a Statutory Body, established under AMLA, to serve the needs of the Muslim community. The needs of our community are diverse, and so are our aspirations. The Muslim community today has higher expectations of Muis, our mosques, madrasahs and all our institutions, and rightfully so.
4 I am glad to have a dedicated team of officers at Muis working hard to uphold the trust the community has placed in us to serve their needs, while bearing in mind we are part of a multi-cultural Singapore.
5 The past year has been a challenging one, with the nation and the entire global community battling the effects of COVID-19. The Muslim community, too, has gone through exceptional times and made important sacrifices, along with other faith communities.
Muis' priority areas
6 For Muis, the pandemic has forced us to reprioritise and react to pressing needs faced by various segments of the community. At the same time, we continued to press on with our long-term efforts to strengthen and uplift the community, to ensure we emerge stronger in the years to come.
7 Muis’ current 3-year plan that we started in 2019, focuses on 4 strategic thrusts:
8 Even in the face of the COVID-19 situation, Muis remained undeterred and made the necessary adaptations to our key projects and initiatives. In fact, we have become even more resolved to support the community better.
Key initiatives over the past year
9 In this regard, I am pleased to report the progress of efforts Muis has undertaken over the past year.
10 First, When the crisis hit last year, the government rolled out various support schemes. At the same time, it was important for us to complement the national efforts to see how the Muslim community can be even better supported:
a. The Poor and needy in the community
i. is an important client group that Muis supports through our Zakat assistance.
ii. With mosques closed last year, and clients unable to meet their social development officers in person,
iii. We took a decision to automatically renew the assistance of those whose assistance was expiring. This approach, together with continued access to Zakat assistance allowed Muis to help 30% more households each month in 2020, compared to 2019.
iv. In addition, Muis provided a special allocation of $2.2m to set up the COVID-19 Muis Support Fund (CMSF). This supported households affected by COVID-19, but who are not usually eligible for Zakat under the usual criteria, and 5,500 recipients benefitted from this support.
b. During the Circuit Breaker period, there was the issue of homeless individuals or rough sleepers being affected due to the tightened safe management measures.
i. Assyakirin and Kassim mosques stepped up to provide temporary shelters, which housed a total of 17 stayers.
ii. This was part of MSF’s national effort.
iii. The stayers received daily food vouchers and were provided with basic amenities such as a pantry, free wi-fi, and shower facilities.
c. We also stepped up our efforts to support our asatizah during the downturn
i. As part of the SGTeguhBersatu Taskforce, Muis worked with PERGAS, PPIS, Mendaki Sense and various other partners as well as union leaders.
ii. We also worked with mosques and the IECPs (Islamic Education Centres and Providers).
iii. This support to asatizah included connecting them to the national support schemes, like SIRS for freelance asatizah, providing financial help, or providing structured training programmes, to help them move their lessons online.
11 Second, Muis stepped up our outreach and engagement efforts to connect with the community despite the circuit breaker restrictions:
a. Building on the success of the SGUnited Buka Puasa last year, this year’s Blessings To All initiative involved the community coming together to provide meals for families-in-need and migrant workers during Ramadan:
i. As of today, more than 640 volunteers have been deployed to distribute 13,000 meals. Almost $100,000 has been raised so far, alhamdulillah.
ii. I would like to thank RLAF, PA (Mesra), M3@Towns, IRCC and DPPMS for the strong support for this initiative.
b. We also ramped up our efforts to connect with the community online:
i. We starterd SalamSG TV on YouTube launched during the last Ramadan now has over 18k subscribers
ii. We have also reached out to more segments of the community to provide the latest updates via the newly created Muis Instagram account
iii. And the new Muis WhatsApp channel was launched before Ramadan to target those who may not be active on social media, but want direct updates from Muis. Within 3 weeks there are close to 2,000 subscribers.
iv. I invite you to join all these platforms if you have not done so already.
12 Third, we have made good progress in improving our digital platforms to make it easier to access services online:
a. Last year, to support our mosques and madrasahs who depend significantly on community donations, Muis launched new online platforms (ourmasjid.sg and ourmadrasah.sg). As of 31 Mar 2021:
i. Ourmasjid.sg portal has collected close to $5.2m; and;
ii. Ourmadrasah.sg portal, which we launched in Dec 2020, has collected close to $150,000
iii. This reflects the very generous giving the community despite the downturn and challenges they face.
b. We have enhanced the Zakat.Sg website for easier navigation, and included more payment options such as PayNow and eNETS.
Forging ahead on long-term plans
13 At the same time, over the past year, Muis also placed stronger emphasis on building for the long term:
a. To develop our Asatizah for the future:
i. We rolled out the Asatizah Career & Competency Framework (CCF) and engaged the Mosques and Madrasahs, who are key employers in the sector. This will help create more career pathways that our asatizah can aspire towards.
ii. We also started the Postgraduate Certificate in Islam in Contemporary Societies (PCICS) for graduates of Islamic studies. The first batch will be graduating this June and many are better prepared for their roles, through the broad range of experiences gained in the programme.
b. We have also done more to strengthen capabilities to support our beneficiaries – under Fitrah, Pelita and Bersamamu
i. FITRAH was set up to enhance support to Muslim incarcerated individuals – to enable them to reintegrate back into society. With the support of our pool of religious counsellors, we will continue to strengthen the throughcare programme to support inmates and their families.
ii. We launched the Pelita Centre last year, to enhance the capabilities of our mosque Social Development officers to better support our zakat beneficiaries.
iii. To strengthen families - Muis together with ROMM and MSF will support the development of our Kadi and Naib Kadi as mentors to couples under the Bersamamu programme as part of the M3 collaboration.
iv. These efforts to build for the long term must continue and Minister will share more plans for the years to come.
Dear Community leaders,
14 In conclusion, it has been a challenging, but also a fulfilling year. Not only did the pandemic force us to rethink our priorities, it also meant we had to accelerate efforts and transform our services to be even more accessible to the community and build for the long-term.
15 I would like to thank all our key partners in walking with us on this challenging journey, not just this past year, but for the past many years:
a. Fellow community leaders and asatizah as well as leaders from our mosques, madrasahs and other Muslim organisations for your continued support.
b. Fellow partners from M3 agencies, SGTeguh Bersatu Taskforce, the MM COVID-19 Workgroup for the collaboration to address urgent challenges brought about by the pandemic and to strengthen last-mile service delivery;
c. Fellow colleagues from other ministries and agencies for rendering your kind assistance and expertise to help Muis strengthen our internal capabilities and services, and to allow us to access government resources and platforms;
d. And finally, our friends from the various faith communities for your solidarity and support. This has allowed us to strengthen social cohesion even as we navigate a more challenging and complex global environment.
16 I invite you to view the 2020 Muis report card that will be made available on the Muis website for a more detailed update on our efforts.
17 If it’s not too early, let me also take the opportunity to wish you Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir dan Batin.
18 May all our efforts in Ramadan be accepted by Allah SWT, including our efforts and discussions this blessed morning. And may He guide us in all our efforts to benefit the community and our nation.
19 Thank you very much and have a good rest of the seminar.
Wabillahi-Taufiq Walhidayah Wassalamualaikum Wr. Wb