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SPEECH BY CHIEF EXECUTIVE MUIS AT THE MUIS AWARDS & PRESIDENT'S CHALLENGE CHEQUE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 2019

Mdm Halimah Yacob , President of the Republic of Singapore, and Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Minister in Charge of Muslim Affairs,

Ambassadors, High Commissioners and distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps

Sohibus Samahah, Dr Fatris Bakaram, Mufti of the Republic of Singapore

Distinguished members of the Muis Council, and former Muis Council members

Respected Leaders of our Mosques, Madrasahs and Community Institutions

 

Assalamualaikum wr wb

A very good afternoon to all, and a very warm welcome to everyone for being here this afternoon. On behalf of my team at Muis, I would like to first and foremost, extend our sincere appreciation for honoring us with your presence today.

Allow me to begin my speech in Malay.

Selamat datangke Majlis Anugerah Muis dan Majlis Penyampaian Cek kepada Dana Cabaran Presiden 2019. Pertama sekali, saya ingin merakamkan setinggi-tinggi penghargaan atas kehadiran Tetamu Terhormat kita, Presiden Halimah Yacob.Kami bersyukur atas penghormatan yang diberikan, dan kehadiran Puanpastinya menyemarakkan lagi majlis hari ini.

Sumbangan bakti para relawan dalam membina masyarakat serta memperkukuh institusi sosio-agama kita telah kita raikan bersama melalui Majlis Anugerah Muis sejak tahun 1990.Hari ini, kami meraikan sembilan individu dengan Anugerah Jasa Bakti dan Jasa Cemerlang Muis. Seperti mereka yang menerima penghargaan yang sama sebelum ini, semua individu ini telah berkhidmat sekian lama tanpa rasa jemu atau mengharapkan balasan.

Lebih dari itu, mereka mewakili beribu relawan yang menyumbang di institusi tercinta kita – di madrasah, di masjid dan di badan-badan Melayu-Islam kita.Mereka merupakan insan mithali yang menjadi tauladan kepada kami semua. Semoga segala amal jariah dan pengorbanan mereka diberkati Allah (swt), Amin.

Di majlis hari ini juga, kami akan menyerahkan cek hasil sumbangan masyarakat Islam Singapura kepada Dana Cabaran Presiden. Ini merupakan tahun ke-19 masyarakat Islam Singapura menyokong Cabaran Presiden.Sumbangan kepada Dana Cabaran Presiden melambangkan nilai Rahmatan lil Alamin masyarakat Islam Singapura, yang giat menyumbang bakti kepada negara tanpa mengira bangsa dan agama.

Kini izinkan saya melanjutkan ucapan saya dalam bahasa Inggeris.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are delighted and deeply honoured to have Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore, to once again grace the Muis Awards Ceremony.  Mdm President, your presence is indeed a great honour for the Muslim Community.

Today, we are witnessing the handing over of a cheque for the amount of $100,000 to the President’s Challenge. This contribution from the Muslim community is a manifestation of the spirit of rahmatan lil alamin, or blessings to all, where, as Muslims, we are taught to be of benefit to all mankind, regardless of race or religion, demonstrate kindness to all living creatures, and to respect and protect nature and the environment.

In this regard, our mosque community and the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) have been doing sterling work in mobilising the spirit of philanthropy of the Singaporean Muslim community. Since it was established in 2009, RLAF has disbursed more than $7 million dollars, contributed by the community, for humanitarian disaster relief efforts around the world.

Another equally important aspect of the Foundation’s work is to build capacity and promote the culture of volunteerism. To date, the Foundation has conducted training and has given out grants for volunteer projects involving more than 2,500 youth in madrasahs, mosques, schools and tertiary institutions.

These efforts go a long way to nurturing the ethos of Rahmatan Lil Alamin, or bringing blessings to all, in the next generation. Thus, I am happy to see many Muslim youth working alongside youth of other faiths, races and backgrounds to champion ground up initiatives in a range of causes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

During his speech at the recent Hari Raya Gathering this year, Minister Masagos Zulkifli described the Singapore Muslim community, as a Community of Success that embodies the qualities of Character, Competence and Citizenry. In building the Character of the Muslim community, Minister acknowledged the important role of the religious life of the community, and key institutions such as our asatizah, mosques and madrasahs, in shaping our socio-religious life.

One defining values of the Character of the Malay/Muslim community is well encapsulated in the term we commonly hear, which is Amal Jariah – which is not just charity, but charity that reaps continuous benefit or impact. We see this probably most clearly during the month of Ramadan where every year, numerous donors come forward willingly to sponsor the breaking of fast at our mosques, as well as when crisis strikes other communities and funds are raised each time for the Rahmatan Lil Alamin foundation mentioned earlier.

We also see this in the annual Zakat contributions that Muis administers on behalf of the community, where the contributions have continued to rise year after year. This has allowed Muis to put in place a system of sustained support for our Zakat Beneficiaries which not only provides for their financial needs, but also religious education needs of their children – and by linking up with the national support system, their employment or other family needs as well. With the support of our Mosques, which administer the Zakat disbursements, I am glad to report that every month, Muis is able to disburse $1.1m of Zakat funds contributed by the community benefitting some 13,000 individuals. Indeed, this generous spirit of giving, to ensure the under-served in the community are taken care of in an ongoing and sustained manner, is an important element in what defines a successful community.

Another defining characteristic of the community’s character is the spirit of Gotong-Royong, which is demonstrated in the high rates of volunteerism in the Muslim community.

Volunteers are the life blood of our community.

This is my first year as Chief Executive of Muis, and I am humbled to be in this hall today, with so many individuals who are actively volunteering in many roles, to support many core areas of Muis’ work:

  • For instance, members of the Asatizah Recognition Board are doing the vital work of ensuring the asatizah fraternity maintains high professional standards, while volunteers on the Committee on Future Asatizah have spent considerable time engaging various segments of the community to garner feedback and ideas to supporting the growth and development of our Asatizah in the future.
  • We also have many volunteers in our mosques and madrasahs playing various roles – from rendering services to the ones in need among us, to ensuring good governance and processes in our institutions.
  • Many of our youth volunteers are also involved in building a strong sense of community bonding. They also promote social harmony and cohesion by being actively involved in reaching out to friends, fellow citizens regardless of race or religion.

As we adapt to this fast changing world, society’s needs will change. But the one thing I believe will remain constant is the need for committed and dedicated volunteers to support the work of key institutions. At the same time, we also recognise that the nature of volunteer work can be very challenging. Volunteers have to juggle the demands of their own careers and family, while they make their contributions quietly without seeking appreciation or acknowledgement.

As such, Muis and our institutions are doing more to facilitate the important work that volunteers play.For example, Muis works with our mosques to ensure good financial and governance processes in place to facilitate the work of our mosque management board members. We are also improving the training for our volunteers – to equip them with the right skills to be effective in their roles. Some examples of such training include:

  • Training for docents in the Harmony centre on core and intermediate skills and approaches to interfaith relations
  • Training for our befrienders who undertake outreach efforts to our Zakat beneficiaries on specific skills such how to engage seniors and those with special needs

I am also glad to share that as part of our recently launched initiative – FITRAH - under the M3 collaboration with Mendaki and MESRA, we have already 350 religious counsellors and community befrienders coming forward to volunteer to work with ex-prisoners to help them reintegrate into society and provide support to their families. We are in the process of training these volunteers to be able to be better equipped tin their roles.

The skillsets and capabilities we are building in our volunteers are all part of the foundations of a community of success, which is defined by character, competence and citizenry.

These traits are abundant in the nine individuals whom we honour today with our highest awards - The Muis Jasa Bakti and Jasa Cemerlang. These 9 individuals have served the community with dedication in our beloved socio-religious institutions, such as the mosques, as well as our partner organisations, that further the welfare and well-being of the Muslim community and the larger Singapore society.

I would like to further add that among our awardees are highly respected professionals from various fields, from the legal sector, to education, information technology, nursing, as well as the religious sector. They have lent their time, energy and professional expertise to the immense benefit of our key community institutions run that various programmes to meet the needs of the Muslim community, and have worked to build social trust and foster strong bonds with the various faith and ethnic communities in Singapore.

Some have piloted youth centric programmes to better engage and mentor the young, and develop the next generation of leaders.Some contributed their specialised knowledge to help strengthening legal and Islamic jurisprudence that has long lasting benefits for the community.

Today we accord our highest accolade – the Anugerah Jasa Cemerlang - to Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Bin Hassan.

  • He is a religious and community leader who really needs no introduction. Ustaz Hasbi serves with distinction on the Muis Council and as member of the Fatwa Committee.
  • He co-chairs the Religious Rehabilitation Group, presides over PERGAS at its President and serves as member of the Asatizah Recognition Board.
  • Ustaz Hasbi also contributes beyond the community at the national level.
  • He has served the community and the nation for more than thirty years, and has been conferred the Meritorious Service Medal, the Berita Harian Anugerah Jauhari as well as the Muis50 Distinguished Award.

    It is timely and befitting that today he is awarded Muis' highest honour, the Anugerah Jasa Cemerlang.

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    In closing, the Muis Awards is a manifestation of the symbiosis between the community and Muis. Just as how the community needs and strong and dynamic institutions such as Muis, our community institutions also need the energy and contributions of our many volunteers drawn from across all segments the community. Working together we can further uplift the community, and ensure we remain a community of success for many years to come.

    Finally, let me once again on behalf of Muis congratulate our Award winners. They have led the way and are indeed shining role models for us all as we continue to build our community of success.

    In the spirit of Bulan Bahasa, allow me to conclude with a pantun.

    Teguhnya bangsa kerana muafakat

    Pasti lentur jika sendiri

    Bakti Tuan martabatkan masyarakat

    Sanjungan diberi menjadi abadi

    Sekian

    Wabillahi Taufiq Walhidayah Wassalamu alaikum wr wb. Thank you.