DPM Heng Swee Keat at Berita Harian's Anugerah Jauhari 2019 (Achiever of the Year Award Ceremony)

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 11 October 2019

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the Berita Harian's Anugerah Jauhari 2019 (Achiever of the Year Award Ceremony) on 11 October 2019.


Mr Ng Yat Chung
Chief Executive Officer 
Singapore Press Holdings

Mr Anthony Tan
Deputy CEO 
Singapore Press Holdings

Mr Saat Abdul Rahman
Berita Harian

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good evening to all of you. It is my pleasure to join you tonight at Berita Harian’s 21st Anugerah Jauhari Award Ceremony. Let me start with a few words in Malay. 

Para tetamu sekalian, saya berbesar hati dapat hadir di majlis malam ini untuk menyampaikan Anugerah Jauhari Berita Harian. Malam ini, kita bukan setakat meraikan para pemenang Anugerah Jauhari, malah, kita meraikan kejayaan  masyarakat  Melayu/Islam Singapura.1

Indeed, this Award recognises the rich and diverse talents within our Malay/Muslim community, and the valuable contributions they make to Singapore.  Over the years, the Award’s recipients have come from many fields – from business, medicine and sports, to the arts and social work. They include President Halimah Yacob, for her contributions towards improving conditions for workers; Master potter, Mr Iskandar Jalil, for pushing boundaries in his craft; Corporate leader, Mr Abu Bakar Mohd Nor, for his wide-ranging professional achievements; Cardiologist, Dr Abdul Razakjr Omar, for his exemplary service in the medical field; and CEO of the Bank of Singapore, Mr Bahren Shaari, for his outstanding leadership in the financial sector. 

Today, we celebrate the achievements of Imam Syed Hassan Al-Attas, recipient of the Anugerah Jauhari or Achiever of the Year Award, and Muhammad Dhafer Muhammad Faishal, recipient of the Jauhari Harapan or the Promising Achiever Award.

As we heard during the citations earlier, Imam Syed Hassan Al-Attas, or Habib Hassan as he is more fondly known, is a champion of inter-faith work. As Imam of Ba’alwie Mosque, he not only provides religious guidance to his congregation, but also makes a special effort to build friendships with other faith communities and grassroots groups. His inclusive approach encouraged other mosques to follow suit. 

Habib Hassan has been a long-serving member of the Inter-Religious Organisation. Through his commitment in promoting religious harmony over the years, Habib Hassan has become a pillar of strength and unity for our community. Religious leaders like Habib Hassan are role models of how leaders of different faiths can promote harmony in diverse communities. At a time where many societies are fracturing over political, religious and racial differences, our religious leaders encourage us to nurture common spaces, and safeguard religious harmony.

Mr Muhammad Dhafer is also a name that most of you are familiar with. He made the community proud when he was awarded the President’s Scholarship this year. As a youth dedicated to helping the underprivileged and uplifting the community, Dhafer embodies our hope that future generations will keep giving back to the community. 

Congratulations to both recipients! 

Malay/Muslim community as a community of success

Habib Hassan and Muhammad Dhafer’s stories reflect the progress of our Malay/Muslim community. Minister Masagos spoke about this during his Hari Raya get-together in June. PM Lee also highlighted this during his National Day Rally speech in August. Both spoke with pride and conviction about how our Malay/Muslim community in Singapore has embodied the values of character, competence and citizenry, and in doing so, established itself as a community of success – or in Malay, Masyarakat Gemilang.


The path to success begins with character. The good character of our Malay/Muslim community is exemplified in their spirit of hard work, team work and service. Those who succeed in the community do not hesitate to lend a helping hand to the less privileged.

Minister Masagos shared with me that already, over 400 members of the community from various backgrounds have stepped up to volunteer their time, expertise and resources under the M³ initiative. The community is also giving back more, through zakat contributions, wakaf assets and various donations.

Youth are among the most active in contributing to the community. Their strong drive to do better for themselves is matched only by their passion to do good for the community. For instance, I had the privilege of meeting many promising Malay/Muslim youths who are a part of 4PM, or the Malay Youth Literary Association. 4PM has provided many Malay youths with opportunities to stretch their potential, through volunteering and activities such as speech and debate competitions. Many of its members have since gone on to be become community leaders, doing good work and making a difference to others.


Through its determination, our Malay/Muslim community has also been able to develop its competence and play a leading role in our society. Many Malay/Muslims have demonstrated excellence in their pursuits, and made outstanding achievements across many fields. For instance, more and more of them are joining professional sectors, playing critical roles in the public service, as well as the uniformed services. They also serve the nation in some of the highest offices of the state. 

This is possible because of the community’s collective efforts to invest in education and upgrading over the years. Since the 1980s, the Malay/Muslim community has pooled its assets, through MENDAKI, to provide additional help to needy students. As the Government turned our attention upstream, the community has likewise started to focus its support on pre-schoolers – to help students from all backgrounds get a good start in life.

One important initiative is KelasMateMatika@CC, otherwise known as KMM@CC.  A collaboration between MENDAKI and MESRA, this was launched last year and has benefited more than 1000 parents and children. Under this programme, pre-schoolers aged 4 to 6 years old learn basic numeracy skills, while their parents learn how to coach and teach their children Mathematics.

Education is the foundation of competence, and continued emphasis on education including lifelong learning is how our Malay/Muslims progressed along with the nation. It is because the Malay/Muslims in Singapore embrace education and lifelong learning, and through sheer hard work – instead of other easy options – that it has earned the dignity that many minority communities around the world envy. As Minister Masagos once said, the community wants to be “equal in substance, and not just in rights.”


At the same time, the success of the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore is not just the product of its good character and competence, but is also manifested in its strong sense of citizenry.

Malay/Muslims in Singapore practice Islam with confidence, while at the same time participating fully in the civic life of our nation. In doing so, they build close bonds with their fellow Singaporeans across racial and religious lines.

For instance, our Malay/Muslim community has taken the initiative to deepen understanding and cultivate mutual respect and trust between the different races and religions in Singapore. Every mosque in Singapore, as well as major Muslim organisation such as Pergas and the Religious Rehabilitation Group, has affirmed the Commitment to Safeguard Religious Harmony. Developed by religious leaders of our different communities, this Commitment was presented to President Halimah Yacob at the recent International Conference on Cohesive Societies, and has been affirmed by more than 250 religious organisations.

Many are also contributing in their own ways to nurture closer ties on the ground. For instance, Masjid Khalid in Joo Chiat has been distributing oranges and canned drinks to Chinese business owners and residents in the area every Chinese New Year, for more than 20 years. This small gesture to spread the festive cheer has definitely turned many of the mosque’s neighbours into close friends.

The Malay/Muslim community also takes care of vulnerable Singaporeans from all backgrounds. The Jamiyah Nursing Home provides medical and social support to elderly Muslim patients, and those from other faiths. This is just one example of how the gotong royong spirit of the community has motivated Malay/Muslim organisations to make an impact to our wider society.

Beyond Singapore, our Malay/Muslim community has also established itself as a model for other minority Muslim communities around the world. Many hope to emulate the harmonious relationships enjoyed by our Malay/Muslim community with other groups in Singapore. Within their respective countries, they also hope to take on the same productive and confident role that our Malay/Muslim community has played in Singapore.

Creating our shared future together

The three “C”s – character, competence and citizenry – that underpin the success of our Malay/Muslim community will be increasingly important given the challenges we face today.

As PM mentioned at the National Day Rally – the next few years will be demanding. There are no easy solutions to the complex challenges we face – economic disruption, social inequality, an ageing population, climate change, and managing geopolitical tensions. No country in the world has found a solution to all these issues. In fact, in many countries, these challenges have caused strife and division between people of different races and religions, and across generations.

We must never allow these differences to unravel our hard-earned social compact in Singapore. Even as our society grows more diverse, we have to enlarge our common space, and rally our people to make common cause for our future.

This is why the 4G leaders and I have committed ourselves to work with Singaporeans, for Singapore, as we set forth on the next phase of our nation-building journey. We want to forge stronger partnerships with Singaporeans, as we collectively own, envision and build our future Singapore. This is the spirit of the “Singapore Together” movement.

I am therefore pleased to note that M³ will be embarking on its own CiptaSama@M³, or Co-Create@M³, engagement series. I look forward to the community’s ideas on how the community can partner Government in the eight M³@Towns, to develop ground-up solutions to community issues.

As leaders of the Malay/Muslim community, I hope all of you will participate in CiptaSama@M³, and find other opportunities to give back to society in your various capacities. Please also encourage your friends and neighbours to participate!

Together, we can find creative solutions to the complex challenges we face, and build a brighter future.

Before I end, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Berita Harian for their role in strengthening the Malay/Muslim community, and enriching the public discourse in our nation. The Anugerah Jauhari awards are one good example.

By recognising and celebrating outstanding performers who give back to society, it encourages not just the award recipients and their loved ones, but also inspires the rest of the community, and the rest of the nation.

Berita Harian has also promoted other worthy efforts in the community. For instance, Berita Harian’s collaboration with the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI) has helped to raise the profile of our Malay SMEs and business owners, and promote a spirit of enterprise and excellence.

Berita Harian’s reporting on the values and work of M3 has also helped MUIS, MENDAKI and MESRA to expand their outreach. Those in need have been able to find out and connect with the services that are available, and those who have skills and talents to offer have discovered new opportunities to serve the community.


On this note, please join me once again in congratulating Habib Hassan and Muhammad Dhafer on receiving these awards. You join an illustrious list of Malay/Muslim individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the nation. I look forward to the contributions that both of you will continue to make in the future. I also hope your stories continue to inspire the Malay/Muslim community at large.

Many of you will be familiar with this peribahasa, “Bukit sama didaki, lurah sama dituruni.”2 Indeed, we can overcome our obstacles together, and enjoy the fruits of our labour together.

I am confident that with this spirit, the community will only grow from strength to strength and continue scaling new peaks as a Masyarakat Gemilang.

Thank you very much, and I wish you all a pleasant evening ahead.

[1] (English translation): I am honoured to be here today to present the Anugerah Jauhari Berita Harian awards. This evening, we are not only celebrating the achievements of the award recipients. We are also commemorating the achievements of the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore.

[2] A Malay proverb meaning to go through times of hardship and ease together; to discuss, consult one another so that we can overcome times of hardship or ease together.