Wakaf properties, including pre-war shophouses, will receive upgrades in a new initiative announced yesterday by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).
According to Singapore's Administration of Muslim Law Act (Amla), wakaf is defined as the permanent dedication by a Muslim of any property for any purpose defined by Muslim law as religious and charitable.
The Wakaf Improvement Initiative, to be carried out by Muis and real-estate developer Warees towards the end of this year, will see upgrading works such as painting and roof repair.
"We are always on the lookout for how we can maximise returns for our beneficiaries," said Muis' chief executive, Haji Abdul Razak Maricar, in a speech yesterday.
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He cited the example of Wisma Indah in Changi Road, which will be undergoing major air-conditioning system replacement works.
This year, Muis is disbursing a record $3.1 million from its rental income to 62 beneficiaries, including mosques, madrasahs and voluntary welfare organisations.
Twenty- seven mosques will receive a total of $1.5 million from the disbursement, while madrasahs will receive more than $390,000, and $320,640 will go to 29 Muslim and voluntary welfare organisations.
An expanded wakaf legal dispute resolution framework has also been established. Since last August, wakaf trustees have been able to use the framework to resolve disputes, which helps the parties avoid high legal costs.
"It tries to ensure a more efficient administration of wakaf and, going forward, to make them more professional," said lawyer Roslina Baba, 55. "It is quite important to ensure the assets are managed to the best advantage to obtain the highest returns," she added.
A 10-member committee was also assembled last year to provide mediation and inquiry on wakaf matters.
This followed a case in January last year in which the High Court struck out an application by trustees of the Valibhoy Charitable Trust wakaf to replace one of the trustees on the grounds that only Muis had the authority to do so.
The committee takes over from Muis which previously served in an advisory role for disputes.
Muis is also reviewing the Amla with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to strengthen trustee management of wakafs after public consultation earlier this year.