Thursday 12 September 2013

Social work veteran Abu Bakar Maidin dies, aged 86

By Bryna Singh, The Straits Times, 11 Sep 2013

MR ABU Bakar Maidin, special adviser and former president of welfare group Jamiyah Singapore, has died.

The 86-year-old was warded last week for a lung infection, but his condition worsened and he succumbed to the illness yesterday evening in hospital. He leaves behind his 78-year-old wife, five children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

His fourth child, current Jamiyah president Mohd Hasbi Abu Bakar, said his father was discussing Jamiyah's future even in his last days.

"My father was telling us how Jamiyah can further help the poor and needy in society," he said.

Mr Abu Bakar was frequently lauded for his commitment to providing care to the underprivileged in Singapore, regardless of race, language or religion.

He took up the reins of Jamiyah in 1970 and helmed it for 40 years, building it up from a group with 190 members and just $5.60 in the bank to more than 35,000 members today. Its various programmes currently help more than 4,000 beneficiaries, about half of whom are non-Muslim.

Under Mr Abu Bakar's charge, public clinics were set up offering free medical and legal services. Jamiyah's four current homes and eight education centres were also set up during his time.

During Jamiyah's 80th anniversary dinner last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that the Malay-Muslim missionary organisation had used its educational programmes, through centres such as the Jamiyah Kindergarten and Jamiyah Business School, to assist in social mobility.

In his speech, Mr Lee also credited Jamiyah's achievements to Mr Abu Bakar's strong leadership, calling him a "role model" not just for the Malay-Muslim community, but for many other Singaporeans in social and community work.

In the years just before Mr Abu Bakar stepped down, he still worked 12-hour days, going to work by 8am and packing his days with meetings.

Even when his four-decade long leadership ended, he continued serving Jamiyah as an executive consultant, and was named special adviser just last month.

The community leader won the President's Social Service Award and the Public Service Award, and also served on the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.

Said Dr Mohd Hasbi: "My father was a great man, who patiently served the community. He gave his heart and soul to community services."

PM Lee offers condolences on passing of Abu Bakar Maidin
TODAY, 11 Sep 2013

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has offered his condolences to Madam Zainab Khamis on the passing of her husband, Mr Abu Bakar Maidin. Mr Abu Bakar Maidin died yesterday (Sept 10) at 86. The social work veteran was the special adviser and former president of welfare group Jamiyah Singapore.

The letter is as follows:

Dear Hajjah Zainab,

Ho Ching and I offer our deepest condolences on the loss of your husband Haji Abu Bakar Maidin. Haji Abu Bakar was a stalwart of the Malay community, and devoted his life to the less privileged in Singapore.He built up Jamiyah from modest beginnings to become a well-respected and well-run organisation offering a comprehensive range of social services. He believed that education was key to improving lives, and set up many education centres to develop young Singaporeans' potential. Haji Abu Bakar championed inter-religious harmony, and forged a strong partnership between Jamiyah and the Singapore Buddhist Lodge Foundation to help the needy. Haji Abu Bakar also made a significant contribution to racial harmony as President of the Inter-Religious Organisation.

Haji Abu Bakar has been an exemplar of public service. He was a role model not just for the Malay/Muslim community but for all Singaporeans. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

With deepest condolences

Lee Hsien Loong

Dignitaries pay tribute to social work veteran Abu Bakar Maidin
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 12 Sep 2013

MINISTERS, religious leaders and ambassadors gathered to pay their last respects to social work veteran Abu Bakar Maidin yesterday, after the 86-year-old died from a lung infection on Tuesday night.

A steady stream of dignitaries, including Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, arrived at his Kembangan home over Monday night and Tuesday morning to bid farewell to this lion of the Malay community.

In a letter to his 78-year-old widow, which was released to the media, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Haji Abu Bakar was a stalwart of the Malay community who devoted his life to the less privileged.

He called him an exemplar of public service and a role model for all Singaporeans.

Haji Abu Bakar built up welfare group Jamiyah from modest beginnings to become a well-respected and well-run organisation offering a comprehensive range of social services, noted PM Lee. He was driven by his belief in education as the key to improving lives.

He helmed Jamiyah for 40 years, and was still its special adviser when he died. Its various programmes now help more than 4,000 beneficiaries, about half of whom are non-Muslim.

"We will miss him dearly," wrote PM Lee.

Haji Abu Bakar was also the first chairman of self-help group Mendaki's Education Trust Fund in 2003, which has disbursed more than $10 million to low-income Malay-Muslim families.

He served on national bodies like the Public Service Commission and the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, and won the President's Social Service Award and the Public Service Award.

Mendaki chief executive Moliah Hashim said in a media statement yesterday that Haji Abu Bakar leaves a legacy that the community can be proud of.

"He will be remembered not only for his steadfast leadership, but also for his humility and spirit."

DPM Teo praised Haji Abu Bakar's role in fostering strong relationships with other religious groups and pioneering initiatives to help the needy, regardless of faith. He was president of the Inter-Religious Organisation from 2003 to 2004.

The pre-burial prayers at Jamiyah yesterday were attended by religious leaders from all faiths, including former Catholic archbishop Nicholas Chia, president of the Singapore Buddhist Lodge Lee Bock Guan and chairman of the Loyang Tua Pek Kong temple George Peh.

The leaders asked for a minute of silent prayer after the Muslim prayers were finished.

Speaking before the minute of silence, former senior minister of state for foreign affairs Zainul Abidin Rasheed told the 200-strong crowd that Haji Abu Bakar "walked with princes, kings and world leaders".

As a member of the World Supreme Council for Mosques, he was one of Singapore's most famous Muslims, and Mr Zainul said that Middle Eastern leaders often asked after him.

Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, told reporters yesterday that he felt a deep sense of loss at the death of a personal mentor who was "dedicated to community and nation".

Close to tears, he revealed that it was through Haji Abu Bakar's personal efforts that he secured a scholarship to study for his PhD in civil engineering at Stanford University in 1989.

"I will always be in debt to him," said Dr Yaacob.

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