SINGAPORE - Ministers, religious leaders and ambassadors gathered to pay their last respects to social work veteran Abu Bakar Maidin on Wednesday, 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.