Othman Wok: His contributions to Singapore and the Muslim Community

Tuan Haji Othman Wok passed away on 17 April 2017 and Singapore lost another great man and founder to history.

Born to a Malay school principal, Mr Othman Wok was a journalist, union leader, politician and ambassador. He was persuaded by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, whom he first met when he was secretary of the Singapore Printing Employees, to enter politics.

He joined the PAP a few days after it was formed and his first election victory was in 1963.

Mr Othman Wok played a pivotal role during a critical preiod of time in Singapore’s history when the country saw racial unrest.

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, accompanied by the Minister for Social Affairs Othman Wok, toured troubled areas to meet goodwill committees and community leaders during the racial riots in 1964. PHOTO: ST FILE


Minister for Social Affairs Othman Wok during a tour of the Mountbatten area where he met goodwill committee leaders during the racial riots in 1964. PHOTO: ST FILE


Following the racial riots in 1964, Mr Lee Kuan Yew went on a Land Rover with loudspeakers strapped to it to calm the people.

The tensions were severe. But Mr Othman Wok stood firm in his conviction of a multiracial society. Because he stood firm, it has made a difference to Singapore’s history.

In Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s own words:

“I remember your staunch loyalty during those troubled days when you were in Malaysia and the tensions were most severe, immediately before and following the bloody riots in July 1964.
“Because of the courage and the leadership you showed, not one PAP Malay leader wavered and that made a difference to Singapore.”

He was one of 10 signatories in the Separation Agreement.

Source: Fabrications About The PAP

He believed in a multiracial Singapore living in peace and harmony.

Source: Fabrications About The PAP

 His family was second to his political work.

With daughter, Lily.

His family remembers him as a kind, loving father who was devoted to his constituents.

He emphasized humility.

“You could be the president’s daughter or the king’s daughter, but humility should be your middle name,” daughter Lily recalled him saying.

His work in the Administration of Muslim Law Act.

He was involved in the introduction and implementation in the Administration of Muslim Law Act 1966 to establish a central governing body for Muslim matters. The Act came into operation in 1966. It paved the way for the formation of three key Muslim statutory institutions, namely the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), Registry of Muslim Marriages and Syariah Court. In a statement, Muis called this Mr Othman’s greatest legacy.

His work in the Mosque Building Fund (MBF)

Together with Mr Lee Kuan Yew and other Malay MPs, he helped to develop the Mosque Building Fund which has supported the building of 26 modern generation mosques to date, the latest being the Yusof Ishak Mosque in honour of our first president Encik Yusof Ishak.

Yusof Ishak Mosque

The best way to honour a great man is to remember his words.

Source: Fabrications About The PAP


RIP, Tuan Haji Othman Wok.


A rambling homemaker dreaming of a better world and sharing her 2-cents worth.

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