Non-Muslims fast to raise funds for mosque

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan officially opened Bazar Raya Utara 2015. He was among 50 non-Muslims who fasted yesterday.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan officially opened Bazar Raya Utara 2015. He was among 50 non-Muslims who fasted yesterday.PHOTO: BH

The field next to Causeway Point in Woodlands has been transformed into a month-long festive night market - the annual Bazar Raya Utara, which opened yesterday.

Estate residents as well as passers-by thronged the 120 stalls, with many enticed by the smell of freshly cooked food.

The event, organised by grassroots leaders from Sembawang GRC, was attended by Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan and other MPs, who broke fast with Muslim residents.

Mr Khaw was among 50 non-Muslim community leaders and GRC volunteers who fasted yesterday.

"Last night, I didn't sleep well, so I got up at 3.30am... I ate my breakfast and I have not eaten since 3.30, but boleh (can)," he said.

Their efforts are to raise funds for the building of the new, 4,500-capacity Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands, which is due to open late next year.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower and MP for Marsiling ward Hawazi Daipi said the GRC aims to raise $100,000 for the mosque through donations, a walk-a-jog, and a vegetable harvest for charitable and voluntary welfare organisations.

"This is also a time for reflection and giving alms as we feel the hunger of the poor in the community," he said in a speech. "The spirit of sharing is even more evident during Ramadan."

Local spice manufacturer House Brand launched a cookbook at the event and donated $12,000 to self-help groups Sinda, Mendaki and the mosque.

Visitors of different cultures packed the market, forming snaking queues for traditional treats such as ramly burgers and vadai.

Administrative assistant Norizan Johari, 35, who was there with her husband and three children, said: "It's good to see all of us getting together for racial harmony."

Lawyer Chiew Ning Xin, 25, had been watching a show nearby and stopped by as she is a fan of pasar malam (night market). "I'm always searching online for the next ones... It's important to promote these types of food," she said while buying apam balek (pancakes).

Some stalls tried to introduce alternative snacks like ice cream in coconuts, churros and goreng pisang with a twist. The latter was being sold with cheese, salted caramel and other toppings by Ms Firdiyanah Aziz, 21. The undergraduate said: "We're trying to bring in something new."

Retiree Marwiah Jaffar, 64, travelled from Bukit Gombak and waited 15 minutes for the nasi bukhari stall to open. She said: "I used to visit this stall with my husband, who was in a wheelchair, because it was his favourite. But he passed away nine months ago. I'm still here because my son loves it."

joseow@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2015, with the headline 'Non-Muslims fast to raise funds for mosque'. Print Edition | Subscribe