SINGAPORE - When she joined the Singapore Police Force 30 years ago, Madam Zuraidah Abdullah did not think that she would one day become the first woman to hold the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner.
But she did just that in 2013, adding to an already impressive list of accomplishments.
She became the first woman council member of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) in 2007. During a secondment from 2007 to 2009 she served as chief executive for self-help group Yayasan Mendaki, helping children in troubled families stay in schools through initiatives such as mathematics workshops for weaker students.
Yesterday, Madam Zuraidah, 54, received the Berita Harian (BH) Achiever of the Year Award, or Anugerah Jauhari, from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Presented by the Singapore Press Holdings' Malay daily, the award honours Malay/Muslim community individuals for their achievements in their field.
BH editor Saat Abdul Rahman described Madam Zuraidah as an inspiration during the award ceremony at the Furama RiverFront hotel yesterday (Aug 30).
"(She) is a model of success not only to the Malay/Muslim community, but also to the nation, having devoted her time to community work , contributing in various areas including education, youth development and heritage."
Madam Zuraidah, who has also been chairman of the Malay Heritage Foundation's board of directors since 2010, said she wanted to share the award with her fellow men and women in blue, adding that she is thankful to the SPF for giving her opportunities to excel.
She said: "I hope my achievements will continue to inspire my community. If you work hard and put your mind to it, you will succeed. Dream that it is possible."
Also honoured last night was silat world champion Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin, who was conferred the Young Achiever Award, or the Anugerah Jauhari Harapan.
At only 18, he won gold medals for both the world championships and the Southeast Asian championships last year as well as the Asian championships in June this year.
He was also a bronze medallist at last year's Southeast Asian Games.
Mr Sheik Farhan, who is a third year digitial and precision engineering student at Nanyang Polytechnic, said he was surprised to have been picked for the award.
"I didn't think I could win because my achievement has been in sports," said Mr Sheik Farhan, who started learning silat when he was three years old.
"I'm glad my dad made me take silat classes when I was young, if not it wouldn't come so naturally to me," added Mr Sheik Farhan, whose father is chief executive of Singapore Silat Federation and former silat world champion Sheik Alau'ddin.
"I want to tell other young people: 'Pursue whatever you want to do, just make sure you strive for the best'."
Yesterday's winners were picked by four judges: Mr Saat Abdul Rahman, former speaker of parliament Abdullah Tarmugi, and former winners Dr Abdul Razakjr Omat and Mr Suhaimi Rafdi.
Other previous winners include MP Halimah Yacob, fashion designer Ashley Isham and master potter Iskandar Jalil.