Honoured for service to nation

A file photo of Religious Rehabilitation Group co-chairman Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan (left) and Ustaz Ali Haji Mohamed at a Berita Harian award ceremony. They are among six religious leaders who will be receiving the Meritorious Service Medal this y
A file photo of Religious Rehabilitation Group co-chairman Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan (left) and Ustaz Ali Haji Mohamed at a Berita Harian award ceremony. They are among six religious leaders who will be receiving the Meritorious Service Medal this year, one of the highest awards for a public servant.ST FILE PHOTO

This year, 4,624 people will receive National Day Honours to recognise their service to Singapore. The Straits Times profiles some of them, from a former national swimmer helping to mould the next generation of winners to an expert helping the Home Team to use tech to make the country safer.

Clerics lauded for helping to rehabilitate radicals

USTAZ ALI HAJI MOHAMED, USTAZ MOHAMAD HASBI HASSAN

Co-chairmen

Religious Rehabilitation

The Meritorious Service Medal

For more than two decades, Ustaz Ali Haji Mohamed and Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan have been trying to rehabilitate Singaporeans who have been radicalised.

They include those who were involved in what many see as Singapore's closest brush with terrorism - the plans by terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to bomb the United States and Israeli embassies as well as the Australian and British high commissions in 2001.

In December that year, 15 JI members were arrested over the plot, under the Internal Security Act.

The two clerics worked with the authorities to understand what motivated the JI terrorists and debunk their deviant beliefs.

In 2003, both leaders started the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), which trains religious teachers to counsel those who have been influenced or misguided by radical teachings.

Today, Ustaz Ali, 72, and Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi, 58, are among six religious leaders who will be receiving the Meritorious Service Medal this year, one of the highest awards for a public servant, for their contributions to the nation.

Ustaz Ali said that he felt thankful to be given this award as it was a recognition of the efforts and contributions of the Muslim community and its religious teachers, especially those in the RRG, in dealing with the rehabilitation of extremist detainees.

He added: "This award is also a symbol of how important it is for religious teachers and the Government to work together to address important issues in the community and in Singapore."

CONCERTED EFFORT

This award is also a symbol of how important it is for religious teachers and the Government to work together to address important issues in the community and in Singapore.

USTAZ ALI HAJI MOHAMED

The two clerics serve in other Muslim organisations.

Ustaz Ali sits on the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore's Fatwa Committee, a group of senior Islamic scholars who make religious rulings in Singapore, while Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi serves as the president of the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas).

"The community is a part of our larger family here in Singapore. We cannot run from community life, and serving the community is just like serving my own family," said Ustaz Ali. "We do not live alone here in Singapore."

Ustaz Ali's son, Dr Mohamed Ali, has followed in his father's footsteps and is also a Muslim cleric who serves as the vice-chairman of the RRG.

 
 
 

Currently an assistant professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Dr Mohamed said he was happy to hear about the news and is very proud of his father, who he considers to be his role model.

Said Dr Mohamed: "My father has been volunteering in the community for more than 40 years, and I really appreciate some of the values that he has.

"He really believes in working for the community and he is passionate, because to him, the community is part of his larger family."


A full list of this year’s National Day Award recipients is available at PMO website: http://www.pmo.gov.sg/national-day-awards

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2018, with the headline 'Honoured for service to nation'. Print Edition | Subscribe