Muis officer lauded for going the extra mile to help those in need

Mr Mohamad Zulfadhli Mohd Gazali makes it a point to talk to aid applicants to better understand their needs.
Mr Mohamad Zulfadhli Mohd Gazali makes it a point to talk to aid applicants to better understand their needs.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - As head of the social development policy department at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), Mr Mohamad Zulfadhli Mohd Gazali, 40, often goes out of his way to help those who apply for financial aid.

His main job is to develop, review and implement social welfare policies for the disbursement of zakat, or alms, but he makes it a point to talk to those who apply for aid to better understand their needs, and also makes sure that they get their monies on time.

So it came as no surprise that he would go the extra mile when his colleague Asri Sunawan, 42, better known as Riz Sunawan, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

When Mr Zulfadhli found out three years ago that Mr Asri, a former news presenter, had the motor neurone disease that affects nerve cells and causes loss of muscle control, he quickly got a few colleagues together to record video messages to cheer him up.

He also took it upon himself to drive Mr Asri to work and take him home daily, as well as accompany him to physiotherapy appointments and on outings to the beach.

"Luckily, I am very big, so carrying him around was not an issue for me," said Mr Zulfadhli. "We live near each other, so I wasn't going out of my way at all."

Last Friday (July 30), he was given the Exemplary Service Excellence Award at the Public Sector Transformation Awards, which recognise and reward public agencies and officers for excellence in their work and organisational practices.

In the past year amid the pandemic, Mr Zulfadhli led his team in administering and disbursing a total of $2.22 million under the Covid-19 Muis Support Fund, helping to ease the financial burden of 5,500 households.

He said that through the process, he spoke to many taxi drivers and private-hire drivers who left a deep impression on him.

Many of them had continued to ply the roads even when there were hardly any passengers, and they ended up earning just $5 to $10 a day.

"So many of them kept on driving and didn't give up. It was very inspiring for us," said Mr Zulfadhli.