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Interfaith champion Siti Noor Mastura is The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2018

Singapore, 12 February 2019 - A young champion for interfaith work and the vulnerable was named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2018 today. Miss Siti Noor Mastura, 28, founder of non-profit organisations Interfaith Youth Circle and Back2Basics, received the award from President Halimah Yacob at a ceremony held today (Feb 12) at the Istana. Madam Halimah was Guest-of-Honour at the event. Interfaith Youth Circle was co-founded in 2015 by Miss Siti Noor Mastura and her former school classmate. The non-governmental organisation conducts monthly Scriptural Reasoning sessions where people of various faiths discuss religious texts from different faiths, but of the same theme.

It also runs campaigns like Break Bread Build Bridges, which encourages people from a community who celebrate a religious festival to host someone who is not from that faith but would like to experience it or learn more about it. Muslims open their homes to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri with strangers from other religions and Christians do the same during Christmas. Back2Basics, which started in 2013, is a non-profit group that delivers free halal groceries to the doorsteps of beneficiaries such as home-bound elderly and single mothers.

“I want to create safe spaces for our youth to have honest conversations about their faiths," says Miss Mastura, who has hosted several novel interfaith initiatives, such as involving the Jewish community in breaking fast with Singaporean Muslims during Ramadan, as well as holding a dialogue on homosexuality with priests in their frocks and gay activists in attendance last year. The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year Award, organised by The Straits Times and presented by UBS Singapore, honours Singaporeans who have put the country on the world map, persevered through incredible adversity or made the community a better place through selfless acts. It is now in its fourth year. The inaugural award in 2015 went to Madam Noriza A. Mansor, for helping an elderly Chinese man who had soiled himself in public. Last year’s (2017) award was given to Dr Goh Wei Leong and HealthServe, which provides migrant workers with affordable healthcare. 

In the running for this year's award were 11 finalists from different walks of life. Among them were a nurse, a teacher, cave rescuers and a couple who 'parented' young adults (See attachment for full list of finalists).

This year’s process saw a total of 74 individuals or groups of individuals nominated. The 14 judges went through three rounds of selection to decide on 11 finalists. The public also took part in the online reader’s choice segment. The judging panel includes editors from The Straits Times, as well as figures such as social entrepreneur and activist Saleemah Ismail, chef and restaurateur Willin Low and poet and civil servant Aaron Maniam (See attachment for the full list of judges).
The recipient of the Singaporean of the Year 2018 award was presented with $20,000 in cash and a trophy, while the other 10 finalist teams each received$5,000, among other prizes. The prize money is sponsored by UBS. Other sponsors include Tridente Automobili, Singapore Airlines (SIA), Millennium Hotels and Resorts, and Osim. SIA will sponsor a pair of business-class tickets for the winner and a pair of economy-class tickets for each of the other 10 finalist teams. The winner will also get a five-night stay in any of Millennium Hotels and Resorts' global properties, while finalists will each enjoy a three-night stay. Osim will sponsor a uDiva 2 Massage Sofa for the winner, while the other finalists will each receive a uJolly Full Back Massager. Tridente Automobili, the official importer for Maserati in Singapore, provided a fleet of SUVs to fetch the 11 finalist teams to the ceremony. Some of the cars were driven by the owners themselves. Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH's English/Malay/Tamil Media group and editor of The Straits Times, said: "There were many worthy contenders for this year's ST Singaporean of the Year award, and the judges took several rounds of discussions to settle on a winner. All of the 11 nominees have embodied the values this award stands for: Lead, care, inspire, serve, dare. They make us proud to be Singaporean and to have people like them among us." 

Mr. Edmund Koh, president of UBS Asia Pacific, said: "UBS Singapore is delighted to once again partner The Straits Times for the Singaporean of the Year Award 2018. Together, we had launched the inaugural program four year ago and it is heartening to see how it has grown to be a very special award that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit, and it is our honour to acknowledge individuals who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in Singapore. This year, our finalists continue to do us proud in their extraordinary acts of bravery and kindness. We congratulate all the finalists as they are each deserving in their own way. Our congratulations to Siti Noor Mastura, whose mission of promoting understanding and peace among different faiths is a true inspiration to all of us to further strengthen harmony and inclusion in Singapore."
For more information about the award, visit

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Leong Lin Choo (Ms)

Senior Manager

Editorial Projects English, Malay and Tamil Media Group

Singapore Press Holdings Limited

DID: 6319 5068



Rebecca Chee (Ms)

Senior Executive

Corporate Communications & CSR

Singapore Press Holdings Limited

DID: 6319 1124



About The Straits Times

The Straits Times, the English-language flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings, is the most-read newspaper in Singapore and is followed widely in the region for its comprehensive multimedia coverage of local, regional and world news, provided by its correspondents in 12 bureaus in major cities worldwide.

Launched on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times has been moving with the times in its efforts to engage and grow its audience and exploring innovative ways of story telling, as well as continuously refreshing its products to maintain quality and stay relevant to the changing needs of its readers. Its integrated newsroom operates round-the-clock, providing content as it happens on all platforms, from its website at, Apple and Android apps to social media.

 The Straits Times is a member of two media networks - the Asia News Network and the Impact Journalism Day alliance of newspapers - and it has won multiple international media awards, including from the Society of Publishers in Asia, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (Panpa), Society of News Design and Wan-Ifra. Its multimedia newsroom and innovative projects were recognised at the annual regional Wan-Ifra event in Hong Kong in November 2018 when it emerged the biggest winner, sweeping nine Asian Digital Media awards, including two golds for best innovation to engage youth audience, and best lifestyle, sports, entertainment website.