New Yusof Ishak Professorship in Social Sciences: Malays/Muslims 'to take lead'

The coordination committee to raise funds for the new Yusof Ishak Professorship in Social Sciences will be led by the Malay/Muslim community, but funding will come from sponsors across the nation.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said yesterday: "The professorship is actually at the national level but this is our contribution, as a minority community, to put together resources to ensure that this professorship takes off the ground."

The professorship - named after Singapore's first president - will be started at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to enhance research in multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism.

Last Tuesday, Dr Yaacob announced the formation of a new SG50 coordinating committee, which will lead the Malay/Muslim community's efforts in raising funds for the new professorship.

It aims to hit a target of $6 million, which includes matching government grants of up to 11/2 times the donated sum.

Several people had voiced concerns over how fund-raising would be carried out, which Dr Yaacob said were "totally misplaced".

He stressed that most such sponsorships typically involve the Government providing matching grants for funds raised, rather than an initial sum.

"I don't see it as something unusual," he told reporters at a book launch by the Malay Heritage Foundation yesterday.

"But because Yusof Ishak is very close to our hearts and he is a national icon, I thought it is a wonderful idea for us to take the lead in this fund-raising."

The coordination committee will be headed by Mr Sallim Abdul Kadir, chairman of Suara Musyawarah, which was set up to get feedback on the aspirations and concerns of the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore.