Hunt on to find and recognise Singapore's Silent Heroes

In his 50 years as a primary school teacher, Mr Mashuthoo Abdul Rahiman took hundreds of pupils under his wing.

From the 1970s, the Tamil-language teacher identified needy pupils in his classes, offering them free tuition as well as money for their books and meals.

For his selfless service to pupils in need, Mr Mashuthoo, 72, was one of five inspiring individuals who won the annual Singapore Silent Heroes Awards last year, conferred by social welfare organisation Civilians Association of Singapore.

The hunt is now on to find the winners of this year's awards. First given out in 2014, the awards aim to recognise people who have made a difference in their communities without seeking any reward or recognition. There were 38 recipients in the past seven years.

Last year's winners were chosen from a pool of 91 submissions, of which 13 became finalists before five were selected for the awards.

Mr Mashuthoo, who won the award in the Pioneers of Promise category, has also inculcated the spirit of giving in his four children, aged between 29 and 42.

He now works as a part-time substitute teacher in schools and, in his spare time, offers free Tamil tuition to children as well as adults eager to learn the language.

He is also active in several charities, including the Singapore Kadayanallur Muslim League, where he tries to raise funds for underprivileged households.

He said: "Some students I came across over the years were children of single parents who worked hard to provide for them and lived in small public rental flats.

"They needed someone to believe in them, and guide them along the right path. I was just happy to be at the right place at the right time."

Many of his former pupils have gone on to become professionals, and they still keep in touch with him. A former student, now a flight steward, was one of the individuals who nominated him for the award last year.

This year's awards - the eighth edition - are open to individuals in five categories: Hearts of Humanity (Care and Disabilities), Pioneers of Promise, Outstanding Adult, Inspiring Youth and Compassionate Foreigner.

Nominations are open until June 30, and a virtual award ceremony is expected to take place on Aug 28.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2021, with the headline 'Hunt on to find and recognise Singapore's Silent Heroes'. Subscribe