SINGAPORE – A new mosque, a professorship and the renaming of a research centre: these are how the country’s first president Yusof Ishak will be honoured for the contributions and sacrifices he made in steering Singapore through its tumultuous years as a fledgling nation.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced these three ways by which the country will pay tribute to Mr Yusof – who was appointed Singapore’s Yang di-Pertuan Negara six months after it gained self-government in 1959, and as the first president of an independent Singapore in 1965 – at the start of his National Day Rally on Sunday night.
The new mosque in Woodlands will be named Masjid Yusof Ishak, and the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS) in the National University of Singapore (NUS) will now be known as ISEAS – The Yusof Ishak Institute. A Yusof Ishak Professorship in Social Sciences will also be started at NUS.
Fundraising efforts for the professorship will be headed by a committee appointed by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who had, at a Hari Raya get-together earlier this month, announced that plans to honour Mr Yusof were on the cards.
Mr Lee described Mr Yusof as an outstanding pioneer in his Malay speech, noting that he was committed to progress through education, and helped strengthen Singapore’s ties with its neighbours.
He also noted the late president was a deeply religious man who also had close and friendly relationships with non-Muslims and strongly supported multiracial policies.
“These are ways by which we ensure that future generations of Singaporeans will hold dear the memory, ideals and values of Encik Yusof Ishak,” said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee also paid special thanks to Mr Yusof’s widow, who was in the audience, saying: “Puan Noor Aishah, we are grateful for all the contributions and sacrifices made by your late husband to the nation. Thank you!”
Singapore’s pioneers examplified the spirit of partnership and sacrifice that the country hopes to foster in its citizens, the prime minister added.
“Pioneer Malays had a choice at independence, and you cast your lot with Singapore. Your choice enabled Singapore to grow into a unique multi-racial and multi-religious society,” he said. “Thank you for having faith in Singapore, and working with other communities to set Singapore on a path to development.”
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