Haji Abdul Hamed was not a highly educated man. The eldest of 14 siblings, he dropped out of school in Secondary Two and become an apprentice to help with his family’s expenses. As the sole breadwinner, he worked long hours, but demonstrated that regardless of one’s status, background and experience, one must still offer something in return to make the community a better place.
Since his younger days, Haji Abdul Hamed has been actively involved in community work. He was in the committee tasked to oversee the construction of Muhajirin Mosque in Toa Payoh, the first mosque to be built under the Mosque Building Fund. He served on the MUIS Council from 1989 to 1992, and in PERDAUS. Later on in his life, he also provided religious counselling to inmates in Khalsa Drug Rehabilitation Centre.
During a time when Malay volunteers at grassroots organisations were a rarity, he volunteered with Kim Keat CC, working with the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong, who was then the MP for the constituency. He actively supported the Residents’ Association, organising block activities and events, and was for a period of time, a member of the School Advisory Committee for MacRitchie Primary School. Haji Abdul Hamed was always a crew member of his community, never a passenger.
Haji Abdul Hamed was a lifelong learner before lifelong learning was in fashion. In 1985, he was retrenched. At age 47, with only an apprentice certificate, there was no way he could find another job. So he took lessons to atttain his taxi driver’s license, invested in a jam-making company with former colleagues, taught basic quran reading, and also became a security supervisor. He even undertook a homeopathy medicine programme, and graduated with a diploma. Resilience and the ability to bounce back were not mere theoretical exercises or hashtags. They were actions which came naturally to him.
While Haji Abdul Hamed valued education, he allowed each one of his 5 children to chart thier own path. He may not have been highly educated, but he had a habit of being excellent, and inspiring excellence in others.
He passed away, aged 77, on 6 Aug 2015, 3 days shy of Singapore’s 50th birthday. A true member of the pioneer generation who lived through the Japanese Occupation, British colonial rule and Singapore’s independence, he brought up a strong and stable family, and did more than his fair share to contribute back to this country that he was born and bred in.