SPEECH BY MR ESA MASOOD, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MUIS, AT MOU SIGNING CEREMONY BETWEEN MUIS AND SNTC ON FRIDAY 1st FEBRUARY AT MUIS ACADEMY, SINGAPORE ISLAMIC HUB
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Mr Masagos Zulkifli
Chairman of Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC), Mr Moses Lee
General Manager of SNTC, Ms Esther Tan
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
1 I would like to thank Minister Masagos and everyone for taking the time to be here today to witness the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Signing Ceremony between Muis and the Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC).
2 It is our hope that the partnership forged today between Muis and SNTC, to put in place a new Muis Special Needs Trust Scheme, will encourage more Muslim families having persons with special needs (PSN) under their care to come forward and set up a trust with SNTC. This is our small way of reaching out and supporting these families to offer them hope and assurance that we are there for them.
The Muslim Community and Special Needs
3 Currently, less than 2% of trusts in SNTC have been set up by Muslim families. The feedback on the ground was that the capital needed to create the trust was one factor that proved to be challenging for interested families. This is particularly so for low and middle income families who are doing their best to make ends meet, while at the same time, hoping that they can still plan forward for the needs of their loved ones when they are no longer there to care for them.
4 It was in view of this that in April last year, Muis announced that we will allocate $1 million towards a Scheme to support this effort, through funds that were paid to Baitulmal from unclaimed estates. This financial support scheme builds on an earlier Fatwa issued in 2015 which expressed the permissibility of establishing such trusts according to Islam. In all Muis expects about 100 families to benefit from this initiative.
5 Allow me to briefly outline how the Muis Special Needs Trust Scheme will work.
6 As a first step, families who are keen to participate in this Scheme should first make an appointment with SNTC who will administer the Scheme. SNTC will then assist with the application process with Muis. Upon approval, Muis will disburse $5,000 to these families to cover the initial capital to set up the trust. Subsequently, once the family has contributed an additional $5,000 into the trust, Muis will then disburse up to an additional S$5,000 on a matching contribution basis. The trust account will then be managed by the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO) with the PSN as the sole beneficiary to ensure that these funds are safeguarded for the PSN’s future welfare and financial security.
7 I am glad to note that this Scheme will also be applied retrospectively for families who have already set up trusts with SNTC. Today, we are very glad to have with us, the 2 Muslim families who have applied to set up trusts with SNTC. We look forward to more families applying for the Scheme in the future.
8 To reach out to the wider community, Muis will engage various stakeholders to promote the Scheme to the public. This includes organising events on inheritance issues, distribution of collaterals and sharing the scheme with our community mosques, madrasahs and Zakat beneficiaries. I encourage you to share this new scheme with your friends and families who might benefit from this scheme for their loved ones.
9 Respected guests, I would like to give my deepest appreciation to all who have contributed to making this MOU signing event today possible. At this juncture, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our friends at SNTC for working tirelessly with us to launch this Scheme that took a year to plan for. SNTC’s work is truly for a noble cause ensuring that special needs trusts can be created not just by the well-to- do, but by the less well-off in society.
10 Moving, Muis, with the help of officers from SNTC, will continue to support Muslim families who wish to create trusts for persons with special needs as part of our efforts in building a caring and inclusive Muslim community in Singapore.
Wabillahitaufiq walhidayah wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi. Wabarakatuh.