SINGAPORE – The Tamil Muslim community in Singapore has contributed to the Republic’s multiracial and religious harmony, with collective efforts that have strengthened the nation’s social compact, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Saturday (Jan 15).
In 1946, for example, members of the community dedicated a portion of their salaries to help the Singapore Kadayanallur Muslim League (SKML) start the Umar Pulavar Tamil School, the first Tamil-medium secondary school in South-east Asia at the time.
The school played an important role in advancing and shaping Tamil language education here, and many graduates have taken up the baton and become Tamil teachers today, Mr Chan said.
“While the school was closed 40 years ago, its name lives on in today’s Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre, which continues the important mission of transmitting Tamil language and culture to the next generation.”
The centre is in Beatty Road.
Mr Chan was speaking at the launch of the English edition of a book titled Singapore Tamil Muslims.
The event was held in conjunction with SKML’s 80th anniversary celebrations in Chui Huay Lim Club in Newton.
The book, which looks to provide a better understanding of the Tamil Muslim community in Singapore, is supported by organisations including the National Heritage Board and Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.
It has forewords by President Halimah Yacob and former senior minister of state Zainul Abidin Rasheed.
The English edition of the book, which was first published in Tamil in 2015, is authored by SKML president Raja Mohamad and deputy president A. R. Mashuthoo.
In his speech, Mr Chan highlighted how the spirit of grit, resilience and service to community has shone brightly among Singapore’s Tamil Muslims.
Many have become successful professionals and leaders of the community, he said.
“But they have all imbibed the spirit of service, and continued to pay it forward to the community and nation.
“Importantly, these collective efforts by your community have also strengthened Singapore’s social compact – where we help the young to have a good start in life, give more to those with less, and enable our people to bounce back from adversity.”
The minister expressed his hope that the book can serve as a reminder, not just for the Tamil Muslim community but also to a broader audience, that Singaporeans must honour and protect what they have, and inspire the next generation to continue paying it forward.
The book can be purchased by contacting SKML, and funds raised will be used for its work to support the disabled community and education needs of children from low-income families.