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Tracing the anecdotal history and humble beginnings of Wakaf Bencoolen

Back then the old generation Masjid Bencoolen was standing out against the spanking new buildings along Bencoolen Street. This masjid has been around for more than a century. Built in 1845 it underwent major repair works in 1980 and could hold 500 worshippers.

Historically, Bencoolen was a name coined by the British as a replacement for ‘Bengkulu’, a place on the west coast of Sumatra which was then a British penal settlement. When Sir Stamford Raffles came to Singapore in 1819, a number of Bencoolen Malays including Indian convicts who were transported there originally for various petty crimes, moved to Singapore. The latter were subsequently deployed mainly as labourers for the Public Works Department here in Singapore. When the Bengkulu Muslims migrated to Singapore, they established a settlement near Rochor Canal called ‘Kampong Bencoolen’.  The street that served the settlement was then named ‘Bencoolen Street’ in remembrance of Sir Stamford Raffles’ position as Lieutenant Governor in Bencoolen.  The settlers originally built an attap mosque at the settlement catered for the Bengkalis between 1824-1825. Subsequently, in 1845, Syed Omar Aljunied upgraded it into a more solid building flanked by two shophouses on each side. Collectively, it came to be known as Wakaf Masjid Bencoolen. Then in  February 1906, Rajab Ally bin Kassim Jeammedah petitioned the other trustees of the Wakaf to designate the mosque as a place of worship for “Mohammedans of the Hanafi Sect”.  


At the risk of the government initiating an acquisition of the land given the dilapidated state of the Wakaf, Muis undertook the decision to redevelop the site in 2002. MUIS proposed for a development of residential apartment consisting of 84 units, a mosque and commercial areas at a cost of approximately $35 million. This was the first time that MUIS was faced with a development of such scale and an attempt to develop wakaf properties/assets using external financing.   An innovative financing model consisting of two parts, ‘Musharakah’ (partnership) and ‘Ijarah’ (leasing contract), was subsequently structured for this purpose. Wakaf, Baitulmal and Warees entered into a Musharakah agreement to redevelop the Wakaf. The Wakaf contributed the land whilst Baitulmal provided the necessary amount needed to develop it, which is the $35 million through the issuance of ‘Sukuk’ (bonds). Warees, on the other hand, provided their developer’s management expertise towards the development. In terms of profit distribution, as most Musharakah agreements; the profit is divided accordingly as per capital invested. The investors/Sukuk holders through Baitulmal earned a return of 3.03%, equivalent to the rental income from the lease with Ascott. The second part of the model being the Ijarah

Did you know? When Sir Stamford Raffles came to Singapore in 1819, a number of Bencoolen Malays and Indian Muslim convicts who were transported from India to Bengkulu originally for various petty crimes, moved to Singapore. The Bencoolen Muslims built the original attap Bengkali Mosque or Masjid Bencoolen between 1825 and 1828. This mosque was replaced in 1845 by a permanent version built by an Arab merchant, Syed Omar Bin Ali Aljunied. This version has been redeveloped into part of Somerset Bencoolen that stands today. was entered between the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with Ascott International Pte Ltd, who agreed to manage the property for a period of 10 years. In 2017, Bencoolen Street was injected with a new lease of life following the completion of Downtown Line 3 works for Bencoolen Station. It featured wider footpaths, dedicated cycling paths and additional bike parking facilities to make walking and cycling more convenient. Given that the Wakaf development has been around approximate 13 years, Muis felt it was timely to rejuvenate the property given the change in its surrounding areas. Warees, through its newly-formed subsidiary, WBD Legacy Pte Ltd (WBD Legacy), entered into a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with Muis in 2018 to revitalise the whole development under Wakaf Revitalisation Scheme (WRS) II as well as to manage the operator. WBD Legacy was also given the rights to enter into a Management Agreement with Ascott International Management (AIM) for the ensuing 10 years for the management of the property. The revitalisation is expected to last for two (2) years starting from Q1 2019 and it would involve intensifying the prayer spaces for the mosques, the erection of a new 4-storey commercial podium and enhancing the serviced apartment units. Source: Internet

Creation of Warees - a strategic achievement for Muis Muis celebrated its golden jubilee with a community festival “Salam Singapore 2018” at Our Tampines Hub from 7th-9th September. It was held as an appreciation and celebration of the partnership between Muis and the community for the past 50 years. One of the key highlights featured at the festival was the Augmented Reality (AR) Experience where families were given the opportunity to have an immersive experience in the Muis journey and understand various subject matters at different stations. Warees was given a booth to showcase our services including our subsidiary company Wareesan Management which provided exhumation services.

Warees was one of the few sponsors of Salam Singapore Community Festival held at Our Tampines Hub.

How do the Malay Muslims benefit from its services? Assets are developed with a delicate balancing act between commercial and community objectives resulting in better efficiency and sustainable performance. Over the last 50 years, Muis have continued to plan and developed infrastructure par excellence which provided multi-functional spaces for ibadah (mosques), Islamic Learning (education@madrasah & mosques), administration (SIH) and commercially-driven properties for wakaf beneficiaries. With such a sizable portfolio of assets under management meeting growing demands of the community, Warees Investments has been a dynamic outfit staying ahead of the curve as a major partner and developer

At Warees booth, visitors were given insightful information on one of the most strategic milestones in the evolution of the statutory board in the last 50 years - the incorporation of Warees Investments Pte Ltd in 2002. Formerly a Property Development Department in Muis, Warees Investments was created to focus on professionalising the management and development of Wakaf in tandem with real estate market practices while enhancing the potential of wakaf assets. Besides its commercial alignment, Warees has grown from strength to strength. For example, as a real estate asset management company, it continues to attract, develop and

Warees staff, Hudzaifah Alyaman Adam and Iqbal Halim enlightening Minister Masagos Zulkifli on the completion of The Red House.

forging trust and confidence of the community. Locally, Muslims in Singapore are blessed with accessibility to infrastructure built in support of our religious life with comfort for optimal use. It would not have been possible without the services rendered by understanding local context, behaviours, aspirations of Muslims and meticulous real estate planning and development for all to enjoy.

retain promising talents within the community. These talents are groomed as real estate professionals to build infrastructure of community assets ranging from commercial, retail and residential to mosques and madrasahs across the nation which are indeed our biggest contribution to the Muslim community. As Muis grew to be a strong and credible statutory board, Warees Investments benchmarked itself with a hybrid of best practices from the private and public sectors. Today, through Muis, the community is proud to own a professional real estate firm and talents with the right capabilities to support the development of the community‘s assets.  

Sharing the heartwarming stories on the successful transformation of a wakaf land into a valuable community heritage. PHOTOS: Muis

building including madrasah campus developments, (ii) managing wakaf (commercial, retail, residential) assets and other investment properties within the Group. Besides development expertise, Warees also provides real estate finance support services for managing a portfolio of more than 140 wakaf properties, and undertook joint-investment projects with Wakaf through Wakaf Revitalisation Scheme (WRS).

What are the services rendered by Warees currently and what other services can be expected in the near future? As the Owner Representative of Muis, Warees’ principal functions include supporting planning of community infrastructure, managing (i) mosque upgrading and new mosque



These commercial shophouse units are zoned under URA’s Kampong Glam conservation area. The wakif (otherwise known as philanthropist) Raja Siti Binte Kraeng Chanda Putih, died on 18 April 1891 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The will stated that ½ of the income and rents collected after deducting all charges and expense are to be distributed to Fatimah Mosque, Mecca Al Musrifah Mosque, Medina Al Munawarah Mosque, Taif Mosque for food of those who break fast at the Mosque and the poor Sharifah’s at Hadramout, and any balance thereof to poor relatives within and outside of Singapore or other charitable deeds as wakif’s executors deem will be beneficial to the wakif. The other half share to be distributed to the next-of-kin under Islamic Law of Inheritance.

4 profiles include the famous murtabak New Victory Restaurant at Unit 701 & 703, perfume and cologne manufacturer The tenant Kazura Industries Pte Ltd at Unit 705, retail store owner Al Amal Creations Pte Ltd at Unit 707 and Biryani F&B joint Al-Tasneem Restaurant Pte Ltd at Unit 709.

Completion of upgrading works at the conserved Wak Tanjong Mosque Wak Tanjong Mosque located at 25 Paya Lebar Road, recently completed its upgrading works, since 20 years ago it was last upgraded. The works comprising additional 2-storey extension building with basement, attached to the conserved singlestorey original mosque. In 2014,

The prominent earthy tones of the external façade of Wak Tanjong Mosque prior to undergoing upgrading works which commenced in early 2017.

the original Mosque structure was gazetted as a new conserved building. The upgrading works involved leveling up the patio area to maximise the use of prayer space and providing proper segregation for female prayer space. The mosque also had better accessibility,

A lighter colour coat of paint was chosen for the mosque.

including a new lift. The upgrading works incurred a cost of $2.6 million revamp of Mechanical & Electrical Systems including new air conditioning internal and external finishes and painting works to its conserved colours.

Some of the key upgrading works at Wak Tanjong Mosque involved the provision of a new lift serving all floors including a proper segregation for female prayer on the second floor.

Warees undertook an expanded role to facilitate the planning and managing the development of the new campus of Madrasah Al-Arabiah by Muhammadiyah Association. The key design drive for MAI is to remind the past history and to also merge with the concept of ‘nusantara’ with Islamic element giving the madrasah a new and strong identity of a modern and progressive world-class Islamic school, with the aim to transform it to become an environmental benchmark for the future madrasah, creating a comfortable learning space by embracing tropical climatic conditions. The new building of Madrasah Al Arabiah Al Islamiah will be relocated to a new site at No 3 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, adjacent to its current site. Over the years Warees has broadened its capabilities. As owner representative of Muis, apart from managing a plethora of Wakaf properties and mosque upgrading and development projects, it has now undertaken an expanded role of facilitating the planning and managing the development of educational campuses such as Madrasah Al-Arabiah.

The Madrasah was formerly founded by Ahmad Moohamed Salleh Angulia and his trustee, Shaik Omar Bim Abdullah Bamadhaj, whom were both merchants. Operated in a small building beside Haji Yusoff Mosque), the madrasah conducted religious classes and Quran reciting in its early years. After a fire incident in 1982, the madrasah was left with no proper facilities which later was managed

A 24-hour live construction site monitoring system is one of the current features installed by the project team to get live updates on the progress of the construction. It is relocated to a new site at No 3 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh. It is projected to be completed in Q4, 2019, and will be ready to open its doors during the new school term beginning January 2020.


ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications which are management systems following the risk-based methodology goes parallel with the Business Excellence framework to solidify our commitment towards a continual improved business performance The ISO 9001 and 14001 standards, which are the world’s most commonly used standards for quality management and environmental management systems were revised in September 2015. Globally, over 1.1 million ISO 9001 certificates have been issued for “Quality Management” and nearly 350,000 ISO 14001 certificates for “Environmental Management”. The deadline for implementation of the new ISO 9001 and 14001 standards was on September 14, 2018. Warees completed the ISO recertification and conversion audit to the new 2015 standard with outstanding achievements of zero non-conformance and zero observation. Attaining this achievement is a reflection of the organisation’s greater emphasis on top management engagement and improved alignment between management systems and the strategic direction of the organisation, which formed the integral part of our business processes. Prior to making the transition from the former ISO standards to the 2015 versions, key project team members were given face-toface trainings by our appointed consultant. Simultaneously, during the earlier phases the organisation identified the areas which needed improvement and the adoption of risk-based methodology enables Warees to differentiate between the various processes based on their level of importance and the impact on delivering its services. Adoption of the 2015 standard has also led to the creation of a ‘Business Risks and Opportunities Register’, detailing all issues that may impact upon our business as a real estate developer company managing endowment assets owned by its Muis which today are valued at SGD750mil. This helps prioritise what will affect


the business most, encouraging the identification and discussion of internal and external influences and helping to create more efficient management structures. In fact, Warees began its journey towards being an ISO 9001 certified company since 2010 for the scope of Project Management and Facilities Management Services. Over the years, there have been an improved knowledge-sharing around the company, fulfilling the new ISO standard’s requirement for creating a business-wide ‘change to improve’ culture. The accreditation to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 will go parallel with its journey to pursue the Business Excellence (BE) Standard solidifying our commitment towards a continual improved business performance and strive towards excellence in meeting the demands of today’s rapid changing trends. In the same regard, Warees takes on a concerted approach and initiative to promote a culture of lifelong learning which enable their staff to enrich and upskill with the relevant advanced skills beyond real estate disciplines. This not only aimed to benefit the organisation to remain industry-relevant and compete with the ever-changing technological landscape but it offers the individual staff to increase their employability by acquiring advanced skills while working on real-world asset development and enhancement projects that are complex and riskbased.

Summary of key improvements •

More emphasis is placed on top management’s leadership and commitment

Risk Based Thinking allows us to identify the internal and external risks and opportunities in our business.

Scenario analysis for our processes (Thinking what can go wrong) forces us to think of the business impact and the mitigating measures.

More emphasis was made towards environmental risk.

Strategic networking ties firmly established with regional industry partners

CEO Warees, Zaini Osman (seated at front row third from left) together with the speakers and participants at World BankINCEIF-ISRA Roundtable on Waqf held in Sasana Kijang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ON 13 September 2018. Warees was invited to speak at the World BankINCEIF-ISRA Roundtable on Waqf held in Sasana Kijang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with the discussion theme “Maximizing Social Impact through Waqf Solutions” on Enhancing Waqf Instruments. The session discussed on the advances made in waqf instrumentation, the potential for more innovative solutions

and the support it may provide in addressing various developmental challenges. Warees shared on the implementation of its unique case studies of multiple financing instruments to enhance wakaf assets in Singapore. In many of its multiple engagements at international events, conferences and office coffee chats, Warees

benefitted from the strategic networking ties established with regional partners such as university administrators, researchers, foreign agencies and others outside of Singapore. Over a span of 16 years, Warees is well-regarded and trusted as a company with a successful model advancing the true potential of wakaf driven by local talents and equitable project financing instruments.

This year marks the 6th year of Global Waqf Conference (GWC) organised by Al Madinah International University, Universiti Tun Abdul Razak and The Central Islamic Council of Thailand, Bangkok. The agenda for this year revolves around the emergence of the 4th Industrial Revolution and how Wakaf can be transformed to dynamically develop a sustainable Muslim society globally. Warees will send 2 staff to attend the 6th GWC 2018 namely; Hamrey Mohamad (Senior Asset Specialist in Accounting Services) and Zulkifli Ahmad (Senior Asset Specialist in Enterprise Accounting).



Profile for Warees Investments Pte Ltd

Warees INsights Dec 2018  

Warees INsights Dec 2018