Good year for the Malay/Muslim community but challenges remain: Yaacob

The Malay/Muslim community has had a good year, with new mosques on the way and strides being made in both mainstream and Islamic education, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim. -- PHOYO: BERITA HARIAN FILE
The Malay/Muslim community has had a good year, with new mosques on the way and strides being made in both mainstream and Islamic education, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim. -- PHOYO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

SINGAPORE - The Malay/Muslim community has had a good year, with new mosques on the way and strides being made in both mainstream and Islamic education, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim on Tuesday.

But challenges still loom in the years to come, including addressing the threat of terrorism, added Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

In a year-end review posted on Facebook, he laid out the year's highlights for the Malay/Muslim group.

Older mosques were improved and new mosques announced, opening up more prayer spaces for the community, he said.

This April, for instance, the Mujahidin Mosque in Stirling Road was reopened after a $3.7 million upgrade, boasting bigger and better facilities. It can now accomodate 4,500 devotees, up from 3,500 a year ago.

Other mosques in the pipeline include the Yusof Ishak Mosque - named after Singapore's first president and slated to open in Woodlands by 2016 - and Maarof Mosque in Jurong.

The community also did well educationally. Malay/Muslim students from both madrasahs and mainstream schools did well in the Primary School Leaving Examination, with Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah pupil Aisyah Nurul Izza clinching an aggregate score of 269, the highest score by a madrasah stdudent.

And this year, 39 students graduated from their universities with first class honours - a record for the community.

Islamic education is also now more accesible, especially for the young, said Dr Yaacob. The Islamic Education Fund received a $2 million boost this year, and 4,000 students - up from the current 2,000 - are now expected to benefit from the assistance scheme.

But even as he praised the community for coming together and fulfilling socio-religious and educational needs, he stressed that challenges still remain. Among them is the looming threat of terrorism.

"We are committed as a nation to reject and fight this global threat," he said.

The community must also continue reaching out to the needy, and stay healthy "to be stronger as a community", he added.

Next year will be even more eventful, said Dr Yaacob, giving a hint of things to come. Efforts to honour pioneers and contribute to the nation will continue. The Malay/Muslim community's SG50 Kita committee will also help the young make sense of the Singapore they want to be a part of in the years to come.

The family unit, "the bedrock of our community" will also be strengthened, and the community will continue to ensure students have a strong foundation in Islamic education, so a progressive religious life can be shaped.