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Religious Rehabilitation Group becomes first organisation to receive the prestigious Berita Harian Achiever of the Year

Sportswoman Saiyidah Aisyah Mohammed Rafa'ee receives the Berita Harian Inspiring Young Achiever Award 

Singapore, 19 August 2014 – When extremism threatened to impact inter-communal relations in Singapore, a group of religious leaders banded together to project the true, moderate teachings of Islam. When a plot to attack key installations in Singapore by Muslim Singaporeans was uncovered, the group stepped up to provide counselling and rehabilitation, not only to the detained terrorists but also their families. 

For their selfless contribution to the Muslim community and the country, and their groundbreaking rehabilitation work that has gained global recognition, the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) has earned the honour of being the first organisation to receive the prestigious Anugerah Jauhari Berita Harian 2014 or Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award 2014.

Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, was the Guest-of-Honour at a gala dinner tonight at the Shangri-La Hotel. He presented the award to the two co-chairmen of the RRG, Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan and Ustaz Ali Haji Mohamed. 

The annual award, now into its 16th year, is organised by Singapore Press Holdings’ Malay daily, Berita Harian. It honours Malay/Muslim individuals for their achievements in their chosen fields, be it education, business, arts and culture, sports, the professions or social work. For the first time this year, the award was opened to organisations as well as individuals. The qualities that the judging panel looks for include perseverance, determination, integrity and the ability to overcome odds. Above all, the winner must be a role model for the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore.

Berita Harian also presented the Anugerah Jauhari Harapan 2014 or Berita Harian Inspiring Young Achiever Award 2014 to Ms Saiyidah Aisyah Mohammed Ra'fee. The award recognises young inspiring Malay/Muslim Singaporeans aged 30 and below. 

Anugerah Jauhari Berita Harian 2014 (Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award 2014)

The Religious Rehabilitation Group or the RRG is a voluntary group formed by the ulama and asatizah (Islamic scholars and teachers) community in Singapore with the primary objective of providing counselling to the detained Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members. RRG hopes to counter the ideological misunderstanding of the JI members through the counselling.  

The RRG was formally formed in April 2003 for a number of reasons. The core members of the group who counselled the detainees felt that there was an urgent need to address the misinterpretations of several Islamic concepts such as jihad, bai’ah and hijrah. If not addressed carefully, the ideology is potentially dangerous as it will bring not only disharmony but more importantly, the loss of lives and property. The public and the community need to be engaged to ensure greater understanding that these wrongful understanding does not represent Islam. This ideology has to be countered with the truth. 

The RRG is helmed by two respected local ulama – Ustaz Mohd Hasbi Hassan who is also the President of the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association and Ustaz Ali Mohd, Chairman of the Khadijah Mosque.

Under the guidance of the two ulama, the RRG has grown to play an important part in the nation's fight against terrorism and extremism. It has not only been instrumental in counselling the detained JI members, but in helping their families too. The female asatizah in the RRG are tasked to counsel the wives of the JI members and help them to overcome the wrong ideology that have been ingrained in them by their husbands.

Beyond counselling, the RRG also conduct workshops and seminars as well as collaborate with other agencies both local and abroad. Their objective is to reach out to Muslims, especially young Muslims, so that they have a clear perspective of Islam's position when it comes to Jihad and extremist views, as well as ensuring that they do not get negatively influenced by events happening in other parts of the world.

The group, which has more than 30 volunteers, has also written two counselling manuals to critique religious interpretations and concepts commonly used to advocate jihadist violence. They have also published articles and set up a website (

Recently, in conjunction with its 10th anniversary, RRG launched a resource centre to share information on its work in countering religious extremism and terrorism threats in Singapore. The centre is the first of its kind here and offers a reference centre for religious teachers, researchers and the community.

The work of the RRG has drawn praise from here as well as overseas. In a ceremony marking RRG's 10th anniversary, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hailed the group for their courage in stepping forward to do the right thing.

Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan said: “Our group was formed out of a sense of responsibility towards the Muslim community and our love for Islam. We were never in it for recognition. But the recognition we have received over the years vindicates the hard work of our volunteers, and it gives us the encouragement to work even harder.”

Ustaz Ali Haji Mohamed said: “This award is recognition for all our volunteers. It has not been an easy journey, in the initial period RRG was viewed by some within the Muslim community with suspicion. Thus, the fact that the nomination for this award came from the community showed that the community has seen and appreciated the true intention of our work.”

Mr Saat Abdul Rahman, Editor of Berita Harian, said: "Harmonious relations among different racial and religious groups in Singapore is a value we treasure very much as a country, and RRG's contribution in preserving inter-communal relations when it was under threat by the actions of a small group of extremists is invaluable. Berita Harian is proud that RRG created history by being the first organisation to receive the Anugerah Jauhari.” 

Beria Harian Inspiring Young Achiever Award 2014

In December 2013, Ms Saiyidah Aisyah Mohammed Rafa'ee bagged a surprise gold medal in the 2,000m women’s lightweight single sculls in 8min 8.94sec at the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar. It was Singapore’s first rowing gold at the Games since 1997.

Aisyah's success was commendable as it was achieved with true grit and determination, as well as plenty of sacrifice. 

She took no pay leave from her job as a student development manager at Ngee Ann Polytechnic for three months to train in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney stint paid off as the experience of training and competing with top level athletes in challenging conditions was instrumental in her gold medal performance. Aisyah paid for most of her training expenses and rowing equipment out of her own pocket. 

When rowing was initially excluded from the 2015 SEA Games, the 26-year-old successfully convinced the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) to include the sport when Singapore hosts the games in 2015. In fact, she was driven to win gold in Myanmar as she was rowing for the future of the sport itself.

Aisyah is training hard now for the upcoming Asian Games in September and has her eyes set on flying the Singapore flag at the Olympics one day.

Along with the award, Aisyah also received a $5,000 cash award, sponsored by Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS).

On receiving the award, Aisyah said: "I am very grateful and it is really a great honour. It gives me the strength and determination to persevere and continue to train hard to make Singapore proud.” 

Mr Saat Abdul Rahman said: “This award is Berita Harian's small gesture in motivating young Malay/Muslims who has shown the potential to achieve greater heights. We hope this award will spur the individual to continue to work hard and pursue his or her dream, and while doing so, inspire other young Malay/Muslims to achieve their goals.”

This year's winners were picked by a panel of four judges from the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore, headed by Mr Saat Abdul Rahman.

The other three judges are

- Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed (Singapore’s Ambassador to Kuwait and Special Envoy to the Middle East)
- Mr Bahren Shaari (Managing Director and Marketing Head of South East Asia, Bank of Singapore; and SPH Board of Directors)
- Mr Suhaimi Rafdi (Chief Executive Officer, Cathay Organisation Holdings) 

Previous winners of the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award are: 

1999 - Dr Mansoor Abdul Jalil, lecturer with the Department of Electrical Engineering at National University of Singapore (NUS)
2000 - Professor Aziz Nather, director at the Tissue Bank and consultant with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at NUS
2001 - Madam Halimah Yacob, Assistant Secretary General of NTUC
2002 - Mr Iskandar Jalil, master potter
2003 - Mr Iskandar Mirza Ismail, veteran composer
2004 - Haji Abu Bakar Maidin, a veteran of social service
2005 - Mr Zulkifli Baharudin, Chairman of Mercy Relief
2006 - Mr Mardan Mamat, professional golfer 
2007 - Mr Ashley Isham, fashion designer
2008 - Datuk Mohd Zain Abdullah, accomplished businessman in the shipping industry 
2009 - Madam Som Binte Mohamed Said, cultural ambassador
2010 - Mr Shafie Shamsudin, Chief Executive Officer of Carrefour Indonesia 
2011 - Mr Mohamed Salleh Marican, Chairman and Managing Director of SCP
2012 - Mr Suhaimi Rafdi, Chief Executive Officer, Cathay Organisation Holdings
2013 - Dr Abdul Razakjr Omar, Cardiologist

Enclosed - speeches of winners of the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year Award and the Berita Harian Inspiring Young Achiever Award 2014 

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Co. Regn. No. 198402868E

For more information, please contact:

Nazri Hadi Saparin
Assistant to Editor
Berita Harian
Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
DID: 6319 5038
HP: 9150 0302

Yeo Siew Chi
Corporate Communications & CSR Division
Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
DID: 6319 1586


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