Imam and interfaith champion appointed to Presidential Council for Minority Rights

President Halimah Yacob (left) officiated at the swearing-in and appointment ceremony of Imam Syed Hassan Al-Attas. PHOTO: HALIMAH YACOB/FACEBOOK
Mr J.Y. Pillay (left) and Shaikh Syed Isa Mohamed Semait have stepped down. PHOTO: ST FILE, BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - Imam Syed Hassan Al-Attas has been appointed to the Presidential Council for Minority Rights (PCMR) for a three-year term.

Five of the council's current members have been reappointed for a further three years. They are: Mr Othman Haron Eusofe, Professor Chan Heng Chee, Mr Barry Desker, Mr Philip Jeyaretnam and Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng.

Two others - Mr J. Y. Pillay and Shaikh Syed Isa Mohamed Semait - have stepped down.

The changes took effect on Thursday (July 15), said the President's Office in a statement. The council now has 16 members, all of whom are appointed by the President on the advice of the Cabinet. It is chaired by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

Its newest member, Mr Syed Hassan, has headed Ba'alwie Mosque in Lewis Road for more than four decades. He is a strong advocate for interfaith dialogue and has led initiatives to build mutual understanding between people of different religions.

In 2019, he won Berita Harian's Anugerah Jauhari, or Achiever of the Year award, for his contributions in this area. Two years prior, he was also named one of the world's most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan.

A council member of the Inter-Religious Organisation, Mr Syed Hassan was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 2015 for his efforts to enhance racial and religious harmony here.

The PCMR ensures that laws passed in Parliament do not discriminate against any racial or religious community.

It also advises the President on nominees to the Malay Community Committee and the Indian and Other Minority Communities Committee. The two committees certify minority candidates for parliamentary elections.

Imam Syed Hassan Al-Attas is a strong advocate for interfaith dialogue. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

The council consists of five permanent members, who are appointed for life, as well as a chairman and 10 other members, who serve three-year terms.

Its five permanent members are: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, former minister S. Dhanabalan and former Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi.

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