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Speech by Minister for Transport and Minister-In-Charge of Trade Relations, Mr S Iswaran, at the Berita Harian's Anugerah Jauhari 2021 (Achiever Of The Year Award Ceremony)

22 Dec 2021 Speeches

My Cabinet and Parliamentary colleagues
 
Mr Khaw Boon Wan
Chairman, SPH Media Trust

Mr Patrick Daniel 
Interim CEO, SPH Media Trust 

Mr Warren Fernandez
Editor-In-Chief, The Straits Times and the English/Malay/Tamil Media Group at SPH Media Limited

Mr Sa’at Abdul Rahman
Editor, Berita Harian

Ladies and gentlemen,

1.     There are many familiar faces here – a pleasure to see all of you. Let me start by saying a very good evening to all of you. It is my pleasure to join you tonight at Berita Harian's Anugerah Jauhari 2021. It is indeed a rare privilege to gather like this, in order to celebrate the accomplishments of the Malay-Muslim community. 

2.     The past two years have been a profound test of the character and mettle of nations, communities and people around the world. When the history of this pandemic is written, it cannot just be a narrative about its deep and disruptive impact on the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world. It must also tell the story of resilience in the face of unparalleled adversity, of unity and solidarity in the darkest hours, and ultimately, of the enduring human spirit.    

3.     Tonight’s award recipients epitomise that spirit and tenacity. I am, therefore, happy to have this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of three outstanding Malay-Muslim Singaporeans - Sarkasi bin Said and Shirin Hamid, who are the recipients of the Anugerah Jauhari or Achiever of the Year Award - and Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman, the recipient of the Jauhari Harapan or the Promising Achiever Award.  In these challenging times, it is fitting that we find inspiration in the accomplishments of trailblazers like Sarkasi, Shirin and Kiria.

Celebrating the Award Recipients 

4.     Sarkasi bin Said, more famously known as ‘Tzee’, is an internationally renowned pioneer of Batik artworks in Singapore. He is a Cultural Medallion recipient whose ground-breaking contemporary artworks have been widely praised for their dynamic and intricate renderings. He also holds a Guinness World Record for creating in 2013 the world’s longest batik painting, spanning 103 metres. Even as we mourn Tzee’s passing earlier this year, we also celebrate his legacy – that of an outstanding batik artist who has and who will continue to inspire generations of artists and Singaporeans.

5.     Our other Anugerah Jauhari recipient is also flying our nation’s flag high.  As we have heard, against stiff competition, Shirin Hamid was recently appointed as the International Monetary Fund’s Chief Information Officer. She is an experienced and innovative IT leader with a strong record of modernising IT systems at large international organisations. I’m told that at the Asian Development Bank, she led its IT department of over 600 personnel to win several recognitions. 

6.     This year’s Jauhari Harapan recipient, Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman, started fencing when she was eight. After clinching the Singapore Schools National ‘A’ Division fencing title, Kiria went on to win the gold medal on her SEA Games debut in the Philippines two years ago at the age of 19.  This year, she rose to the occasion once again to spar against world champions at the Tokyo Olympics. We are very proud of Kiria’s accomplishments, and we look forward to her scaling greater heights.

Learning from the Award Recipients 

7.     Let me now continue with a few words in Malay.  

8.     Ketiga-tiga penerima anugerah telah mencapai kejayaan dalam bidang mereka masing-masing. Namun, mereka telah menampilkan dua ciri-ciri yang kita semua boleh pelajari. Pertama, mereka mencerminkan semangat berdaya tahan. Mereka tidak berputus asa dalam menghadapi cabaran, malah sentiasa tabah dalam mengharungi apa jua kemungkinan. 

a.     Tzee mengalami zaman kanak-kanak yang sukar dan perjalanan yang penuh onak duri semasa awal kerjaya beliau, sebelum menjadi perintis seni batik di Singapura.

b.     Dalam bidang kerja Shirin, di mana masih terdapat pelbagai stereotaip, beliau telah membuktikan bahawa kaum wanita mampu mengimbangi pekerjaan dan kehidupan keluarga. Pencapaian-pencapaian cemerlang Shirin telah mendorong lebih ramai wanita untuk menceburi kerjaya dalam bidang teknologi.

c.     Kiria pula perlu bersaing dengan para atlit yang mempunyai ranking lebih tinggi daripada beliau di Kejohanan Kelayakan Olimpik awal tahun ini. Namun, beliau tetap tidak gentar, dan berjaya menewaskan mereka untuk meraih tempat di persada sukan yang terulung.

d.     Sememangnya, ketiga-tiga penerima anugerah kita menjiwai peribahasa Melayu “Genggam bara api biar sampai jadi arang”. 

9.     Kedua, penerima-penerima anugerah kita juga mempamerkan semangat kerja keras. Bak kata pepatah – “Yang bulat tidak datang bergolek, yang pipih tidak datang melayang” - untuk meraih hasil yang diinginkan, seseorang itu perlu berusaha dengan gigih. Tzee, Shirin dan Kiria bukan sahaja telah bekerja keras untuk menjadi mahir dalam bidang masing-masing, tetapi juga mementingkan pembelajaran sepanjang hayat supaya dapat kekal relevan dalam usaha mereka mengejar kecemerlangan.

a.     Tzee mempelajari sendiri seni batik dan mula memperoleh kemahiran semasa kecil ketika membantu nenek beliau menjual batik. Selama bertahun-tahun, meskipun setelah mencapai kejayaan dalam seni batik, beliau masih berusaha mencari peluang-peluang baru untuk meningkatkan lagi kemahiran. 

b.     Sebagai seorang peneraju teknologi pula, Shirin bukan sahaja memperkukuh kecekapan teknikal, tetapi juga terus berusaha untuk membangunkan keperibadian dan meningkatkan kecerdasan emosi beliau. Kini, beliau seorang pemimpin pasukan-pasukan berbilang budaya yang berkesan.

c.     Bagi Kiria, kejayaan tidak datang bergolek. Beliau berlatih enam hari seminggu, sambil mengimbangi masa sebagai seorang mahasiswi jurusan Kimia di Universiti Nasional Singapura. Let me continue in English.

Celebrating the Malay-Muslim Community’s Continued Progress  

10.    Beyond individual achievements and the clear attributes of our award recipients, this occasion is also an opportunity for us to recognise the diverse talents and accomplishments of the wider Malay-Muslim community in Singapore

a.     The personal journeys of Tzee, Shirin and Kiria, illustrate the multiple pathways to success that many Singaporeans are availing themselves of, in the arts, sports, finance, science, engineering, or technology, but also in many new emerging fields. 

b.     At the same time, our Malay-Muslim community has made significant strides in education, employment and income. For example, the proportion of Malay youths who go on to pursue university degrees or diplomas has increased from 35 per cent a decade ago to 53 per cent last year. Many more from the community are holding highly-skilled jobs today, and based on the latest census data, a larger proportion are employed in fast-growing sectors such as infocomms, finance, insurance, and professional services.  

11.    We all take pride in these achievements as a nation, always recognising that they have been made possible by the community’s collective and sustained efforts at upliftment through education, skills acquisition and lifelong learning. In fact, we have heard this theme echoed several times through the course of today’s panel discussion. I also know that my Cabinet colleagues, Masagos, Maliki, Zaqy and many others have been dedicating themselves to this cause. Their involvement and support is reflective of the Government’s own abiding commitment to be a part of the Malay-Muslim community in this important endeavour 

12.    But as shared today in the panel discussion, it is also incumbent on all those who have done well, to pay it forward by contributing to the community. With more members of the community stepping up to serve and complement national and community initiatives, I am confident that the Malay-Muslim community, with the active participation of all its members, will continue to thrive, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the other communities in Singapore, and growing from strength to strength in the years ahead. 

Berita Harian 

13.    Finally, I would like to also thank Berita Harian and Sa’at for inviting me this evening.  Since its founding in 1957, Berita Harian has played a critical role in nation building – serving as the voice of Malay-Muslim community, and enriching the national discourse in Singapore. I wish Berita Harian every success as you embark on a new and exciting chapter under the newly-established SPH media trust.  I am confident that Berita Harian will successfully evolve with the changing needs, profile and habits of the community, while always remaining faithful to its core mission and role within our national fabric.   

Conclusion

14.    Once again, my heartiest congratulations to our three award recipients on their most inspiring achievements, and to Berita Harian on organising this meaningful event. I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year. Thank you for inviting me.