SG50: 4 Things About Singapore’s 1st First Lady, Millennials Can Learn From

Bet you didn't know she was Muslim either.

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Singapore will be celebrating their 50th year of Independence this August 9th and this is the time where the whole country, with a population of 5.47 million, looks back to reflect on the journey of 50 years.

For this, we look towards a particular Muslim, Toh Puan Noor Aishah, a Malay woman who was not so much in the spotlight but stood beside and outlived her husband who was the first President of Singapore, Mr Yusof Ishak (in office 1965-1970).

 

1. Her days were committed to improving the society around her.

Noor Aishah received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1964 for her selfless dedication to social welfare work. She also served as patron for the Red Cross Society, the Young Women’s Muslim Association, and the Girl Guides Association.

 

Puan Noor Aishah received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1964 for her selfless dedication to social welfare work. She also served as patron for the Red Cross Society, the Young Women’s Muslim Association, and the Girl Guides Association.

Image Source: National Archives Singapore

 

2. She advices Muslims everywhere to work towards getting closer to Allah.

“Get very close to Allah and you will be guided. Nothing to worry. Everything you intended will be answered,” said the distinguished woman who is now 83 years old.

 

3. Since his death in 1970, she has rarely been seen in the media or attends official government events. She is more comfortable raising her kids with her family.

In 1948, he wed Noor Aishah Mohd Salim in an arranged marriage when she was just 16 years old and he was 39. They had three children – two daughters and a son.

 

 

4. Every year, an award is given in her name- the Puan Noor Aishah Award, presented to outstanding Brownies and Girl Guides units.

 

noor aishah award

Image Source: Hua Yi Secondary School

noor aishah award for West Spring Secondary School

Image Source: West Spring Secondary School

The awards are presented by Girl Guides Singapore to units who fulfill the following criteria.
  • Leadership involvement of the Brownie Guiders (teachers-in-charge)
  • Participation in inter-unit / divisional activities
  • Attainment level of proficiency badges
  • Community service involvement of the Brownies
  • Achievements by the Brownies in inter-unit / divisional competitions

 

5. She owns and maintains an impressive garden in her backyard. This is something impressive for a land-limited country like Singapore.

puan noor aishah puan noor aishah

 

 

“I can’t sit still, there’s always work to be done. I’m used to this since I was young. There was always something to do,” says Puan Noor Aishah who donned a blue baju kurung. However, when she got sick, her plants wilted as there was no one to tend to the gardening. After she was discharged from the hospital, the flowers were in full bloom too.

Such is the effect of a strong positive woman on her society.

Watch the video of her interview here:

 

Puan Noor AIshah

Image Source: Marion and Daniel

Featured Image Source: National Archives of Singapore/ Yusof Ishak Collection

 


 

Written by Nur Safiah — Editor, Zilzar Life

 

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