Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development,
Second Minister for Health, and Minister in Charge of Muslim Affairs
Mr Mohamed Sa'at Abdul Rahman, President of Muis
Senior Community and Religious Leaders,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalamu'alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
I am pleased to be here with you this evening for the Syed Isa Semait Scholarship Award Presentation.
2 Developing future asatizah for the Muslim community in Singapore has always been a key concern of Muis.
3 Through the use of community funds entrusted to Muis, a large amount has been dedicated to support asatizah development through various key initiatives for curriculum development, professional development and scholarships.
4 Muis awarded its last full undergraduate scholarships to our Mufti Sahibus Samaha Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, Ustaz Alfian Yasrif Kuchit and Ustaz Irwan Hadi Mohd Shuhaimy. Dr Nazirudin and Ustaz Irwan pursued their undergraduate studies in Islamic Sciences at the Al-Azhar University in Egypt in 1998 and 2004 respectively, while Ustaz Alfian went on to pursue legal studies at the International Islamic University of Malaysia in 1998. These recipients have taken on various roles in the religious sector and are currently holding or appointed to senior religious leadership positions in Muis and the Syariah Court.
5 On 13 of May 2022 at the Minister's Hari Raya Get-Together, Minister Masagos announced that Muis will be expanding the Syed Isa Semait Scholarship (SISS) for madrasah students who have excelled in their studies to pursue their undergraduate studies at prestigious Islamic universities around the world. The scholarship, which will be continued to be named after former Mufti, Syed Isa Semait, to honour his invaluable contributions to the Muslim community and the nation, will be offered to the best candidates starting in 2022.
6 The SISS scholarship is an important element in support of The Committee on Future Asatizah (COFA) findings. COFA was formed in March 2019 to develop a vision for “Asatizah of the Future”. Led by COFA Chairperson, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, the committee conducted its engagement exercise from March to October 2019. From the engagements with more than 1900 individuals via five engagement modalities, COFA puts forth the vision of the future asatizah with ten recommendations centred around 3 key thrusts. SISS is to support the key thrust of “Professionalising the Asatizah Sector” in developing a structured talent management programme focused on grooming future asatizah to fill different leadership positions in the sector, including those who will helm apex roles in key religious institutions.
7 Muis will set-aside a total of five million dollars for the next five years from 2022 to 2026 for the SISS. Up to four scholarships can be awarded annually to deserving candidates.
8 The scholarships will cover tuition and university’s fees, allowances and other approved expenses. Successful candidates can also expect to be offered customised developmental programmes, mentorships, internships, careers in the religious sector and postgraduate scholarships.
9 Apart from the scholarship, Muis has also initiated a number of programmes that would further support asatizah development moving forward. These include the Post-graduate Certificate in Islam in Contemporary Society (PCICS) programme for our students who have graduated from Islamic Universities overseas. We have also launched the Continuous Professional Education (CPE) and Skills Upgrading Programmes (SUP) to ensure asatizah’s ongoing development.
10 Muis will set-aside a total of five million dollars for the next five years from 2022 to 2026 for the SISS. Up to four scholarships can be awarded annually to deserving candidates.
11 I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the madrasahs for supporting the SISS scholarship nomination exercise by assisting us to identify suitable, potential candidates. Their swift response and consideration have helped us to launch this scholarship for our madrasah students to benefit from this year.
12 Madrasahs too have made numerous improvements and enhancements to their curriculum, lesson delivery and student development programmes that has led to the production of high calibre students who are well sought for by various tertiary institutions. Our students now qualify to go to many top universities locally and overseas. Hence it is critical for us to offer our best and brightest a scholarship that is worth their standing.
13 To the recipients of this prestigious award today, I hope you take on this amanah or trust from the community with great humility and motivation as we have great expectations of you as Islamic scholars and future leaders of the Muslim community in Singapore.
14 Let me end with an excerpt from the Hadeeth of our beloved Prophet s.a.w signifying the high standing of Islamic scholars: “Ulama are the successors of the Prophets”. I have confidence that you will take up this challenge and wish you the best in completing your studies with flying colours.
Thank you and may you have a pleasant evening.
Wabillahi-Taufiq Walhidayah Wassalamualaikum Wr. Wb.