Singapore's first president Yusof Ishak, first attorney-general Ahmad Ibrahim, first female Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob and first football player to play in a top European league Fandi Ahmad earned national recognition for breaking new ground.
Their accomplishments, and other significant milestones for Malay/Muslim Singaporeans since 1965, are captured in a new book launched yesterday.
Titled 50 Defining Moments For The Malay/Muslim Community, the 122-page book is jointly published by the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) and Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian.
Also documented are the formation of major community organisations like the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, community self- help group Mendaki and the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG). The RRG was set up by a group of religious scholars in 2003 and counsels terror detainees as well as counters their distortions of Islam.
Speaking at the book launch at the Malay Heritage Centre, Madam Halimah said Malay/Muslims should continue to highlight and record events that the community can be proud of. "We should continue striving for and achieving better results year after year," she added.
She noted that, for example, the academic performance of students in full-time Islamic religious schools, or madrasahs, has been improving, with almost all pupils doing well enough in this year's Primary School Leaving Examination to go on to secondary school.
The book also features two individuals who this year became the first madrasah students to secure places at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
"We've come a long way from those days when people think going to the madrasahs means you will have a very difficult future (or) career," said Madam Halimah.
AMP chairman Azmoon Ahmad said that as part of the committee to select the content of the book, he considered not just the impact of the milestone when it happened, but also whether it continues to make a difference today. "More importantly, does that event that happened in the past which has made an impact today - will it continue to have an impact tomorrow? If that is a 'yes', this will have an even bigger weighting."
The significant moments cover a wide range of achievements in academia, the Government, uniformed services and sports.
They include the appointment of Singapore's first Malay/Muslim army general Ishak Ismail in 2009 and golfer Mardan Mamat becoming the first Singaporean to win a European tour event in 2006.
Ms Dinah Aziz, who is featured in the book as the first madrasah student to score seven A1s in the O levels in 2008, hopes her story will inspire others. Now 23, she does research in drug discovery at NUS.
She said: "We can be religious and live our lives as Muslims... and we can also excel academically."
This article was first published on December 8, 2015.
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