SINGAPORE: The late Mr Othman Wok's "greatest legacy" was the development of the Administration of Muslim Law Act, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Monday (Apr 17), after news broke that the former Cabinet minister had died.
It was this piece of legislation, developed together with the late Professor Ahmad Ibrahim, that made the establishment of MUIS, Syariah Court and Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) possible, the organisation said in its statement.
It added that as Minister for Social Affairs from 1963 to 1977, Mr Othman had laid the foundation for the administration of Muslim affairs in Singapore while developing the national policies and infrastructure for culture and social welfare for a young nation.
He also played a big role in establishing the Mosque Building Fund, at a time when resources had to be mobilised to build new mosques for the community as the nation underwent rapid urbanisation. Through this Fund, the community has been able to build 26 new multi-function mosques, offering many programmes for religious learning and social development which benefit the community and beyond till this day, MUIS said.
"With his passing, the community has lost a strong leader who sought tirelessly to uplift the community. His significant contributions not only create a deep impact on the lives of the Singaporean Muslims but have also enabled them to grow and prosper as the nation grew."
ADVANCED QUALITY OF SOCIAL WELFARE SERVICE: MSF
Yayasan Mendaki said in a separate statement on Monday that the late Mr Othman was one of the Malay leaders who played a "pivotal role" in keeping the spirits and unity within the community and Singaporeans at large after the separation from Malaysia in 1965.
"The successes of those within the Malay/Muslim community would not have been possible without the foundations laid by pioneers such as Mr Othman Wok. The community is indeed grateful to Mr Othman Wok for proposing free education to all Malays from primary to tertiary," MENDAKI said.
It also noted that his efforts as the Minister for Culture and Social Affairs help laid the foundation of the social service as well as volunteer sectors.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) also issued a statement saying it was "greatly saddened" by the passing of the former Cabinet minister.
It noted that Mr Othman was the first Minister for Social Affairs and, over his 15 years of service, "worked to advance the quality of social welfare service from the basic functions of assistance and rehabilitation, to also focus on social progress for national development".
These efforts include his "visionary step" of initiating the predecessor of the National Council of Social Service, which helped to create a more effective social service ecosystem. He also championed the training of social workers and volunteers to better equip them with skillsets needed.
"Mr Othman’s tireless efforts in shaping the social sector in Singapore set a solid foundation for all of us at MSF to build upon. He will be dearly missed," the ministry said.