DPM Heng joins Muslim residents for virtual breaking of fast, urges them to get vaccinated

Volunteers deliver food bentos and cookies to resident Abu Talib Jaffar on May 2, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
DPM Heng Swee Keat (centre) and Dr Maliki Osman (right) greet residents online at the virtual breaking of fast at Siglap Community Centre, on May 2, 2021. PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION

SINGAPORE - For Ms Sabrina Chong Abdullah and her family, Hari Raya Puasa will be a socially-distanced affair, with home-cooked meals, Zoom calls with relatives, and a drive around the heartlands to top off the day.

The home baker, 44, is playing it safe this year as Covid-19 measures have been tightened for the next two weeks until May 14 to tackle the rising number of community cases. Hari Raya Puasa falls on May 13.

"My family already has seven people, so visiting other homes will be difficult. I'm not getting my kids' hopes up, and they are sad because they will collect fewer green packets this year," said the Bedok Reservoir View resident, who has five children aged five to 15.

In a virtual session on Sunday evening (May 2), Ms Sabrina's family was among some 100 Muslim families who broke fast with the East Coast GRC MPs, led by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Mr Heng was joined by Minister Maliki Osman, Minister of State Tan Kiat How, and MPs Jessica Tan and Cheryl Chan at Siglap Community Centre, where they delivered Ramadan well-wishes to the residents via Zoom.

Citing the recent Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster that has grown to 27 cases, while Covid-19 continues surging in other parts of the world, Mr Heng said: "The situation is actually getting bad. And it's very important that we continue to keep up our vigilance."

He urged the residents to get vaccinated against Covid-19, which the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore has said is permissible.

"I hope that for all of you who have not been vaccinated, when your turn comes, please do so because it is a way to protect ourselves and protect other people," Mr Heng said.

He added that some who are vaccinated may still be infected, but the vaccine protects people from severe disease.

Before the virtual event, organised by the East Coast GRC Malay Activity Executive Committees, volunteers delivered bento meals and Hari Raya cookies to the 100 families.

During the virtual chat, Ustazah Kalthom Isa, a freelance religious teacher, shared about the significance of Ramadan, and also encouraged the residents to stay healthy and get vaccinated when their chance comes.

Siglap resident Abu Talib Jaffar, 65, said he and his wife, 55, are planning to get the jab after the month of Ramadan.

Mr Paiman Supangat, chairman of Abdul Gafoor Mosque, receiving dates from Mr Raja Segar (far right), chief executive of the Hindu Endowments Board, on May 2. PHOTO: HINDU ENDOWMENTS BOARD

Said the operations personnel, who joined the event: "I've already registered for the vaccine, but will wait till after the fasting month in case there are side effects or flu that will render me unable to fast."

On Sunday, the Hindu Endowments Board distributed 100,000 dates to Muslim voluntary welfare organisation Jamiyah Singapore, and six mosques - Angullia Mosque, Abdul Gafoor Mosque, Ba'alwie Mosque, Jamae Chulia Mosque, Moulana Mohamed Ali Mosque, and Al-Abrar Mosque.

The dates will be distributed to congregants who visit the mosques for prayers.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.