Muis builds villas to unlock value of wakaf land

Muis builds villas to unlock value of wakaf land
Viewing a model of the six three-storey villas, collectively known as Alias Villas, are (from left) chairman of Warees Investments Haider M. Sithawalla; Muis CEO Abdul Razak Hassan Maricar; Muis president Mohammad Alami Musa; Warees board director Sallim Abdul Kadir and Minister-in- charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim. With them are (from right) Aamer Architects CEO Jasni Ngahtemin and Aamer Architects principal Aamer Taher.

The 110-year-old Al-Huda Mosque in Jalan Haji Alias, off Sixth Avenue, will be getting new neighbours - six luxury villas that come with a swimming pool.

And money from the sale of these villas will be used to fund the current upgrading of the mosque.

Known as Alias Villas, the semi-detached strata landed units were launched yesterday by Warees Investments, the real estate development arm of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

The three-storey villas have a 99-year lease and are expected to be ready by 2017. They range from 3,000 to 3,670 sq ft and will go for at least $1,500 per sq ft, or around $5 million each.

The launch is part of an ongoing revitalisation scheme by Warees Investments to enhance the asset value of wakaf properties, which are built on land bequeathed or willed by Muslims towards religious or charitable uses. The 30,450 sq ft wakaf land parcel that will house the villas was donated in 1905 by Indian landowner Navena Choona Narainan Chitty to trustees for building the Al-Huda mosque.

Upgrading works to the mosque began last June and are due for completion next month. The $1.1 million upgrading cost is expected to be reimbursed with money from the sale of the adjacent villas.

"Alias Villas is a reflection of the success of the Singaporean Muslim community," said Mr Haider M. Sithawalla, chairman of Warees Investments' board of directors.

"What used to be a humble plot of land in the middle of the old Kampung Tempeh is now going to be a prestigious residential development in the heart of District 10," he added, referring to how the area used to be a kampung from the 1920s to 1980s.

At the launch at Marina Mandarin hotel yesterday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said: "The whole idea is really to unlock the value of our wakaf. So this is a good example... a mosque which has been bequeathed with a little piece of land... We've been able to maximise it to generate further income for the mosque and for the beneficiaries of the wakaf."

He said he believed the duty of Muis and Warees is to maximise the potential of the wakaf land because the benefit goes back to the community.

"So I think this is something which we are obligated to do and we will do our best with the help of the community."

One-stop website for Malay heritage

Spanning news features, videos and even a digitised traditional game, a new website aims to be a one-stop gateway for resources on the Malay community's heritage.

The WarisanSG portal, warisansg.com, was launched yesterday by the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF). Available in Malay and English, it includes news articles, event listings, picture and video galleries, and even a cyber version of congkak, a traditional Malay game.

More than 20 Republic Polytechnic and National University of Singapore students who interned with the foundation contributed to the site's content.

A mobile game app and book were also launched yesterday. The app, Warisan Enigma, is a puzzle game where players can find out more about the history of Malay artefacts dating as far back as the 14th century.

The book, Faith, Authority And The Malays: The Ulama In Contemporary Singapore, is the third of five books in the Singapore Malays: Our Heritage & Legacy series.

Written by Mr Norshahril Saat, a doctorate candidate at Australian National University, it looks at the history of the Islamic religious elite and how Malay Muslims here respond to the challenges of modernisation while preserving their Islamic heritage.

Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Education, attended the launch at the Malay Heritage Centre in Sultan Gate. She said these initiatives will facilitate the documentation, promotion and preservation of Malay heritage.

"As we celebrate our nation's 50th birthday this year, I am heartened by the efforts of individuals and organisations, such as the MHF, in the documentation and preservation of our local culture and heritage. This is a task that has no end, and is much better done by many hands and minds."

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 1, 2015.
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