Aug 16, 2012 The Straits Times, By Stacey Chia And Matthias Chew
Malay student is one of five winners
Yesterday, Mr Adil Hakeem Mohamad Rafee claimed another title – the first Malay student in 44 years to be awarded the President’s Scholarship, the Republic’s most prestigious undergraduate award.With less than a week to go before Hari Raya, the news was celebrated by leaders in the Muslim community.The Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said: “It shows that it is possible within the Malay-Muslim community for us to produce talented individuals.
“I hope this will motivate many more Malay-Muslim students to try and excel as much as possible.”
Although there have been two other Muslim recipients, Mr Adil Hakeem, a 19-year-old Raffles Institution student, is the second Malay ever to win the scholarship.
The first was Mr Mohamed Ismail Ibrahim who won in 1968.
Mr Adil Hakeem will be applying to study liberal arts at Yale University in the United States. At the ceremony yesterday, he was accompanied by his parents and younger brother. They live in an HDB flat in Toa Payoh.
Asked about being the first Malay in nearly half a century to win the award, he said: “I’m hopeful that in the next five to 10 years, people will forget about me, because by then there will be a lot of other success stories to share.”
Dr Tan said that the scholarship had evolved over the years to give more outstanding youth the chance to get a good education and serve society.
The most recent change was made in 2009, when the award was opened to students on statutory board scholarships. Mr Soh, 18, who is on a scholarship from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, is the first to be named a President’s Scholar under this new category. He will be studying economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Miss Tee, 19, will study political science at Yale. Mr Lim, 19, and Mr Huang, 19, are headed to Harvard University and Cambridge University respectively.
In his speech, the President stressed the need for “visionary, brave, and passionate leaders” in a time of global uncertainty.
He said: “I hope that you will carry that torch of our pioneers, and be the new generation of leaders who will bring Singapore to even greater heights.”