Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Jamiyah's 80th Anniversary Dinner
Tuan Haji Abdul Karim Maidin
President of Jamiyah
Tuan Haji Abu Bakar Maidin
Executive Consultant for Jamiyah
Ladies and gentlemen
1. Salam sejahtera and selamat malam kepada anda semua. Izinkan saya mulakan ucapan saya dalam bahasa Melayu.
2. Saya ingin ucapkan tahniah kepada Jamiyah atas sambutan ulang tahunnya yang ke-80. 80 tahun adalah satu tempoh yang lama. Dalam masa itu, Singapura telah membangun dan berubah wajah. Semua warga Singapura telah mendapat manfaat daripada kemajuan ini. Pemerintah telah menjalankan program-program kebangsaan untuk memperbaiki kehidupan semua rakyat Singapura. Hasilnya, kita nikmati ekonomi yang kukuh, pekerjaan yang baik dan perkhidmatan sosial yang bermutu tinggi.
3. Kita juga beruntung kerana terdapat pertubuhan seperti Jamiyah yang memainkan peranan penting untuk meningkatkan taraf kehidupan masyarakat masing-masing. Jamiyah memahami keperluan unik masyarakat Melayu/Islam. Ia menyediakan pelbagai perkhidmatan seperti tuisyen, pendidikan agama, kaunseling dan rumah tumpangan bagi golongan kurang bernasib baik, yang disesuaikan dengan keperluan masyarakat. Jamiyah juga bekerja dengan baik dengan badan-badan Melayu/Islam dan kumpulan agama yang lain untuk menangani cabaran yang lebih kompleks.
4. Jamiyah mendapat manfaat daripada kepimpinan yang kuat, kakitangan berdedikasi dan sokongan daripada masyarakat. Saya ingin melahirkan penghargaan kepada bekas Presiden Jamiyah, Haji Abu Bakar Maidin. Haji Abu Bakar telah mengubah Jamiyah dengan kepimpinan teladan. Saya yakin bahawa pasukan baru di bawah Haji Abdul Karim akan meneruskan kerja-kerja yang baik ini. Semangat sebegini boleh kita contohi dalam usaha kita membangunkan masyarakat Melayu/Islam Singapura dan mencapai visi "Ke Arah Sebuah Masyarakat Cemerlang".
5. Ladies and gentlemen, first may I congratulate Jamiyah on its 80th anniversary. Not many organizations in Singapore have reached this milestone and it reflects the endurance, the relevance of Jamiyah and the good support that it enjoys from the community.
6. Jamiyah was established in 1932 as a missionary organisation as you can tell from its name. It disseminated Islamic teachings and values among the Muslim population in Singapore and in Malaya. Over the years, it expanded into social and community work in line with the changing needs of the Malay-Muslim community. Now Jamiyah complements national programmes and efforts by other Malay/Muslim organizations to serve the community.
7. At a national level, the government works to look after all Singaporeans regardless of ethnic groups. We provide high-quality social services whether it is housing or healthcare. We provide good education to develop Singaporeans’ potential and to prepare Singaporeans for good jobs. We work on the basis of meritocracy to give everybody the same chance to succeed and we manage social challenges across the board regardless of race, language or religion.
8. This national approach has worked well for us. All communities have progressed with Singapore, including the Malay/Muslim community. People have made achievements based on merit and fair competition so that every Singaporean can take pride in their accomplishments and progress and they have strengthened the Singaporean identity as we have improved our lives together. But at the same time while the government works at a national level for all groups, we recognize that each different community has its unique needs, especially in the social and cultural fields. So, there are many community-based groups which have sprung up to service this like Jamiyah, PPIS, 4PM and so on in the Malay community. In addition the government has funded and supported self-help groups starting with Yayasan Mendaki 30 years ago and, ten years later as a result of the community’s initiative, another Malay self-help group, the Association of Muslim Professionals. And for the other communities we have SINDA, CDAC and the Eurasian Association. All these community and self-help groups are doing good work and making useful and valuable contributions.
9. Jamiyah has made a valuable contribution to the Malay/Muslim community. It has focused on education as the basis for social mobility. It established a Jamiyah kindergarten and a Jamiyah Business School. It operates homes for the less fortunate. For example, orphans and disadvantaged children at Darul Ma'awa, substance abusers at Darul Islah and destitute seniors, Darul Takrim. It provides free services like medical care, marriage counseling and legal aid and it has become and made itself a well-respected and a professional organisation.
10. For more ambitious projects and complex issues, Jamiyah has been partnering other Malay/Muslim Organisations (MMO), including Mendaki, AMP and PPIS. Each organisation brings its particular expertise, experience and also reaches out to its own segment of the community. Collectively by working together, the MMOs serve the Malay/Muslim community more comprehensively and effectively. In the Community Leaders’ Forum (CLF), we bring all the MMOs together to take a more holistic approach to community issues. Jamiyah actively participates in the CLF, jointly running programmes such as the Life Skills Workshop to develop the potential of at-risk youths and also running training course to make Malay workers more employable.
11. But while Jamiyah’s focus is the Malay/Muslim community, it also opens its programmes to other races regardless of race, language or religion and its Mission Statement is to serve humanity. It has long cooperation with the Buddhist Lodge, thanks to the friendship between Haji Abu Bakar Maidin and Mr Lee Bock Guan. And many joint initiatives with the Catholic Archdiocese, the Hindu Endowments Board, the Central Sikh Gurdwara and the Taoist Federation of Singapore. I am very happy that around my table this evening, we have representatives from all these different religious groups, sitting together harmoniously, cooperating and doing good for Singaporeans. We thank you all. This approach of Jamiyah reflects the emphasis on inter-religious harmony which was set by its founder, Moulana Abdul Aleem Siddique, who also founded the IRO, the Inter-Religious Organisation, in Singapore.
Haji Abu Bakar Maidin
12. Jamiyah’s achievements are only possible because of the strong leadership, dedicated staff and volunteers and the strong community support which it is enjoying. I would particularly like to congratulate and commend Tuan Haji Abu Bakar Maidin for building up Jamiyah all these years. He assumed the presidency of Jamiyah in 1970 and I am told Jamiyah had only 190 members which may not be so surprising. But you may be surprised to discover how much it had in the bank - $5.60. But Haji Abu Bakar started organizing religious events and classes to raise local Muslims’ interest in Jamiyah. He championed education, he promoted inter-religious harmony, first within Jamiyah and then as President of IRO. And under his stewardship, Jamiyah grew from strength-to-strength. So, now it has 35,000 members and a bit more than $5.60 cents in the bank. Haji Abu Bakar has been a role model not just for the Malay-Muslim community but for many other Singaporeans too in social and community work and I thank him for his exemplary service and his contributions.
13. Jamiyah is now in the good hands of President Haji Abdul Karim Maidin. I am confident that he and his team will built on the work of his predecessor and take Jamiyah to greater heights and the government looks forward to working with Haji Abdul Karim and with Jamiyah to continue supporting and upgrading and helping the Malay/Muslim community.
14. MMOs like Jamiyah will continue to evolve. As the Malay/Muslim community is progressing, its profile, the mix of people, the demographics are changing. So, Jamiyah has to stay abreast of the changes and review its programmes to keep them relevant to the community. For example, now there are now many more Malay/Muslims who have made it to become professionals, managers, executives or business people. Jamiyah needs to craft its programmes to take advantage of this, of the skills and the abilities and the energies and the resources which the PMETs can provide and at the same time encourage more PMETs to participate in the activities and to contribute back to help more Malay/Muslims succeed as they have done. You can tap their expertise and time and get them not only to do projects for you and with you but also to guide younger Malay/Muslim activists and nurture a new generation of leaders. I am confident that Jamiyah and the Malay/Muslim community will rise to these challenges. I congratulate you once again for eight decades of good work and wish you all the best for the future.
Thank you very much indeed.
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