Othman Wok remembered during Friday sermon

Pioneer leader Othman Wok died on Monday at age 92.
Pioneer leader Othman Wok died on Monday at age 92. ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN

Pioneer leader Othman Wok was remembered by Muslims at Friday prayers in mosques across the island yesterday.

Mr Othman, who died on Monday at age 92, received special mention during the sermon for his contributions to racial harmony in Singapore.

"Racial harmony does not come easy. It requires courage, countless sacrifices and careful planning from various individuals and community leaders," read the text of a prepared sermon.

"Among those who have significantly contributed to the growth and development of this nation is the late Mr Othman Wok."

It added: "His efforts in spearheading the development of multiracial policies have established Singapore as a successful pluralistic society."

Mr Othman was the first Malay Cabinet minister in independent Singapore and was committed to multiracialism, despite intense pressure and criticism from Malay supremacists in the 1960s.

In the sermon, which was prepared by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore to be delivered by imams at all 71 mosques in Singapore, worshippers were reminded of their role in preserving the peace that Mr Othman worked to build.

"Maintaining peace and harmony is especially crucial for a country with a multiracial society like Singapore. As such, it is imperative that we continue playing our roles in ensuring the preservation of peace and harmony that we have so enjoyed thus far," said the text of the sermon.

The racial riots of the 1960s are a reminder of the importance of socio-religious harmony, and maintaining this is a shared national responsibility, not just that of the country's leaders, it added.

"We need to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the peace and harmony that we have inherited,'' it said.

"May the efforts of the late Mr Othman Wok spark interest in our hearts and future generations to contribute to the betterment of our state and religion."

Mr Othman received a state-assisted funeral, and was buried at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery on Tuesday. A memorial service was held in his honour on Wednesday at Victoria Concert Hall.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Othman Wok remembered during Friday sermon'. Print Edition | Subscribe