Haji Yusoff’s contributions to the community:

Haji Yusoff was the Nazir (Trustee) of the Sultan Mosque for 30 years from 1914 – 1944. Together with the Management Committee members, he raised funds and looked after the development of the mosque. He was also a philanthropist and an anonymous donor who gave generously.

Haji Yusoff also started a free madrasah or Islamic school in a room on the first floor of the Sultan Mosque. He furnished Madrasah Haji Mohamed Noor with basic necessities and employed a teacher, Ustaz Jaafar to teach boys from Kampung Gelam mengaji Quran (Quran reading) and fundamentals of Islam and its laws. Classes were held on every Monday to Thursday from 2 pm to 5 pm. Madrasah Haji Mohamed Noor functioned for more than 10 years before it ceased its operations when Singapore was occupied by the Japanese in 1942.

Haji Yusoff’s will also provided for monthly and annual donations to poor widows and orphans, to religious teachers engaged by his family, and to the Sultan Mosque and Clyde Street Mosque (to provide food for the poor during the fasting month of Ramadan).

Artefacts belonging to the Haji Yusoff’s family that were donated to the National Heritage Board or NHB (R00835, R00840 & R00841):

No. Description




Adding machine


2 cupboards (mirror on one side of the door)


2 half-circle (marble top) side tables


1 single bed (no mattress)


3 chains


2 octagonal side tables


2 bags of green belt material


1 kitchen cabinet


1 side cabinet (with decorative carvings)


1 earthenware/chinaware water vase


1 long bench


3 coffee shop chains


1 big mirror


5 medium sized mirrors


1 small blue mirror


Settee set (3+1+1+coffee table)


1 long dining table


2 red upholstered chairs


2 coffee shop chairs


1 low wooden platform (ambin)


1 screen with frosted glass


1 kettle


3 lamp shades


1 glass cupboard (2 doors)


1 writing desk with 2 drawers


1 clothes stand


1 car (Austin 6) – it was scrapped as the repair cost was too high

These artefacts could be found at Gedung Kuning and Malay Heritage Centre (MHC). However, some artefacts are kept with the NHB – read NHB’s Letter of Appreciation

  • 20 May 2011

    Mr Khalid Shukur Bakri (former Senior Manager of Malay Heritage Centre) emailed Hidayah: “… NHB that they would not want to keep the furnitures at the Centre when the Centre re-opens in 2012.  At the moment, they have given me 3 weeks to find out from the family members.” He asked for the contact number of Hidayah’s uncle Abdullah Joffri – read email

  • 22 May 2011

    As Hidayah was away in England, she instructed her cousins to assist with the matter. Her cousin, Rashidah, informed her that Abdullah with Khir would be meeting Khalid on 23 May 2011 to discuss about the transfer of the artefacts. – read email

  • 6 April 2012

    Julina Khusaini the General Manager (GM) of the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) informed us that some of the mirrors we donated to the MHC were broken.

  • 9 April 2012

    Hidayah reiterated via email that “the family wouldn’t donate broken things and of course MHC wouldn’t have accepted them if they were broken right? Julina, we hope you can settle this matter with Akbar and update us.”
    Julina replied “Wrt to the broken mirrors… we may need to consult with our legal side, what’s the best recourse….so, do allow us some time to sort this out.” – read email

  • May 2012

    Khir Johari (from the Gedung Kuning family) lent several artefacts (belonging to him) to the museum at the MHC.

  • August 2012

    Discussion ensued between Khir Johari and the MHC regarding the artefacts that the family had donated in 1999. Apparently, due to mismanagement and negligence, the artefacts stored in NHB storage are destroyed by termites and some of the mirrors broken. NHB wanted the family to take them back, otherwise they would be thrown away.

  • 17 October 2012

    MHC emailed Khir to ask him to retrieve the artefacts on 22 October (Saturday). He was also given a storage invoice of $4418.03, to which he protested and refused to pay. After much correspondences, MHC apologised and said “sorry for the administrative misunderstanding.”

  • 9 January 2013

    Khir updated Hidayah about the matter and informed her that Mamanda wanted to return the other artefacts at Gedung Kuning as they feared she would take legal action against them.

  • 21 May 2013

    Hidayah emailed NHB and MHF to inquire about the final donated items that remained in the custody of the MHC and MHF. She wrote “For your information, the MHC under the previous management only put up the acknowledgement tags in mid 2006, 3 years after I had requested them on 27 February 2003. Furthermore, it seems that the MHF and even Mamanda restaurant would not respond to my emails about matters regarding Gedung Kuning. Examples being the Mango Tree issue and the Rumah Bendahara name. Their non-response had propelled me to write to the press about those matters. I hope this will not happen again in the future as it would only reflect unfavourably of their management.” – read email

  • 22 May 2013

    Mr Alvin Ng, Director of Heritage Institutions wrote that “Under our loan agreement with the family of Haji Yusoff, there are six items under the custody of MHC and they are as follows:

    Items Status Remarks
    1 Spools of Haj belt materials On display in Kehidupan (Air Gallery) Remaining 3 in storage
    2 Ambin On display in Kehidupan (Tanah Gallery)
    3 Sideboard On display in Kehidupan (Tanah Gallery)

    For the above items on display, we have credited the family according to the credit line as agreed upon in the abovementioned MHC loan agreement signed on 22 June 2012.
    For your reference, the credit line was “From the family of Haji Yusoff bin Md. Noor.” – read email

  • 23 May 2013

    Hidayah replied and asked if the rest of the items are kept at Mamanda Restaurant. She asked Julina to give a breakdown of of the items under the care of the MHF as per the example given by Alvin. – read email

  • 5 June 2013

    Julina replied and stated that “As per our earlier emails to you dated 19 Oct 2012 and 29 Oct 2012, please direct your queries on these matters to Trustee Hj Zulkeflee Hj Ismail, who is also cced in this email.” – read email

  • 5 June 2013

    Hidayah responded and said, “Surely the MHF would have kept a record just like the NHB? I do not understand why you would not furnish me with the list as requested just like what the Alvin from NHB has done. I have the legal rights to see the record. In any case, I trust that you would have already informed or given the list to my uncle Zhulkeflee (Cik Pili).
    I hope you will put up the acknowledgement tags as soon as possible (if you have not done so already). In her email of April 9, 2012, Madam Zuraidah had assured me that this will be done. “Please update me about this matter. I would like to inspect the acknowledgement tags myself (just like I did at Tepak Sireh when Mr Khalid Bakri invited me to check on the tags).” – read email

  • 15 June 2013

    Abdullah Joffri, a trustee of the estate of Haji Yusoff (he is also Haji Yusoff’s grandson and Hidayah’s uncle) wrote a complaint letter addressed to Dr Yaacob Ibrahim about MHF’s and Mamanda’s mistreatment towards Hidayah as well as about the artefacts belonging to the family that are on loan to the MHF. – read letter

  • 24 June 2013

    Julina, GM of MHF, replied stating that their team will revert about Abdullah’s letter. – read reply

  • 30 September 2013

    Abdullah Joffri wrote to Julina to remind her that 3 months had passed and she needs to respond about the broken artefacts, list of artefacts and the acknowledgement tags. – read letter

  • 2 January 2014

    Abdullah Joffri wrote to Julina to remind her that more than 6 months had passed and MHF needs to respond about the broken artefacts, list of artefacts and the acknowledgement tags. – read letter

  • 8 January 2014

    Julina from MHF replied after 6 months from Abdullah’s first letter and her initial reply. Among others, she did not give a list of artefacts as requested and shifted the blame from MHF to Mamanda, saying that it was “our” arrangement with Mamanda and that MHF cannot instruct Mamanda to put the acknowledgement tags. Julina’s responses showed her (and MHF’s) incompetency, unprofessionalism and irresponsible behaviour. – read letter

  • 14 January 2014

    Abdullah replied Julina’s letter, rebutting her points. Abdullah insisted that Julina do the following:
    1. Send him the list of artefacts (including those broken while in the care of the MHF)
    2. Send him the official letter to state that MHF has returned all the artefacts to the family (as MHF has stated they did in July 2012)
    3. Put the acknowledgement tags on the artefacts that are non on loan (just like what NHB has done).

    Abdullah reminded Julina that it was only courteous to acknowledge the contributions of others. His letter was cc-ed to Acting Minister Lawrence Wong from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). Since there was no response from Dr Yaacob about his complaint about MHF and Mamanda Restaurant mistreatment of his niece Hidayah who was trying to do her job as instructed by Abdullah, Abdullah hoped that MCCY (NHB is a statutory board under the MCCY) will ensure that the MHF acts with professionalism. – read letter

  • 28 January 2014

    Julina replied, still skirting the main issue and not giving Abdullah the list of items he had requested. – read letter

  • 1 February 2014

    Abdullah replied stating that he looked forward to NHB facilitating the meeting with MHF and the family of Haji Yusoff. He asked Julina to give him the list of items he had requested since 30 September 2013. – read letter

  • 13 July 2014

    Hidayah emailed Shaun from NHB on 6 March, 10 April, 13 May and 2 June to ask him when the meeting will take place. According to Shaun, MHF was “still trying to find some dates for a meeting.” Abdullah then wrote a letter to Minister Lawrence Wong to update him on MHF’s unprofessional and disrespectful attitude towards the family. It has already been more than 1 year since he first wrote the complaint letter to Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, and MHF is still uncooperative. – read letter

  • 30 August 2014

    Hidayah emailed to Minister Lawrence Wong to follow up from her uncle Abdullah’s letter – read email

  • 7 October 2014

    MCCY replied to Hidayah’s email of 30 August 2014 stating that “We have considered the case carefully.  We have found that as the dispute is of a private nature, we are not in a position to intervene, unless there is new information for us to revisit the issue. – read email

  • 8 October 2014

    Hidayah replied and stated that, “The dispute is not of a private nature for the simple reason that our family is the donor of the artefacts now “on loan” to MHF and Malay Heritage Centre (MHC). The donation was made for the benefit of the public and for future generations of Malays (and non-Malays alike) to learn and understand more about Malay heritage and culture. Our donation seeks to preserve and enhance Malay heritage and culture – which is for public (not private) interest… As stated in the chronology of events, if MHC could have responded almost immediately to the same requests, we do not see why MHF cannot accede to the same requests. Their non-response is long overdue, and their lack of transparency and accountability for the donated artefacts, unacceptable. In our view, such delay and inability to resolve a simple issue reflects the inefficient, incompetent and irresponsible way the MHF is conducting and managing its affairs.” – read email

  • 3 December 2014

    Hidayah wrote a letter ‘Nonchalant behaviour towards donors of artefacts’ to the Forum Page of the Straits Times on 18 November but her letter was not published. The Online Citizen published her letter instead. – read letter

  • 28 December 2014

    Hidayah emailed Minster Lawrence Wong again and asked him to intervene regarding the MHF as the principles (which he stated in his Straits Times article of December 10th)  “can be applied pretty squarely with the attitude of the MHF in (mis)handling of the matter concerning my family’s artefacts loaned to the MHF and their lack of accountability and response to our queries on outstanding matters.” – read email

  • 8 February 2015

    Hidayah and her uncle Abdullah lodged a 10 page complaint with the Commissioner of Charities (COC) about the MHF. A file of evidence was submitted to the COC. The MHF is a Registered Charity (registered 07/09/1999) and an Institute of Public Character (IPC) (29/05/2014 – 28/05/2017). The MHF has displayed blatant Lack of Accountability and Records; Lack of Disclosure, Transparency and Non-responsiveness; Inconsistent Public Image, Non-exemplary, Unconscionable and Unfitting behaviour of a Charity and IPC, causing much Distress, Unfairness and Injustice to Donor Families. The matter is an issue of Public Interest – Damage to Public Trust and Confidence in Charities and IPCs.

    As a key requirement of charities and IPCs like the MHF, and as part of good corporate governance, the MHF should be transparent and accountable in its operations. It should provide information about its activities as well as be responsive to requests for information, from contributing donors like us. In our case, however, our requests over the years have fallen on deaf ears and been rudely ignored. Hence, the complaint is timely.

    Read letter

  • 24 February, 17 March 2015

    The Charities Unit of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth or MCCY corresponded with Hidayah about the complaint, clarifying details and gathering more information.

  • 8 May 2015

    Hidayah inquired with the Charities Unit about updates of the complaint. The Charities Unit replied on 11 May stating “We are currently assessing the matter after obtaining information from the various stakeholders involved. Hence do give us some time to determine the outcome.”

  • 5 August 2015

    Hidayah emailed the Charities Unit of the MCCY to ask for updates on the complaint against the MHF as it has already been 6 months after her initial complaint. She hoped that the MHF is not employing delay tactics by giving the excuse of being “extremely busy with our activities”. This dispute with the MHF has been on going since mid 2011 and she hoped the MCCY would assist her to make sure that there will be no further deliberate delay.
  • 15 December 2015

    Hidayah emailed the Charities Unit of the MCCY to ask for updates. It has been more than 3 months since her last email of 5 August. Surely, the MHF would want to resolve this matter that has been dragging since 6 April 2012. After all, it will not reflect well on a well-known charity that appears to be evading the complaint of members of the public and Donor Family. She hopes that the MCCY will do its best to expedite and resolve this matter as well as restore public confidence in charitable institutions.
    COC replied on 17 December stating,
     “We are still in the midst of obtaining clearance in relation to your feedback. Apologise for the delay on our side.”

  • 18 December 2015

    Hidayah emailed to ask  what COC meant by “obtaining clearance? Clearance from whom? Clearance for what?”
    COC replied, “Usually case officer for each complaint received, needs to assess the info, obtain more details or seek clarifications with the various parties involved, and then propose actions that required approval from our superiors. The process of assessing and clarifying the info on hand takes up the longest time.”

  • 27 April 2016

    After 1 year and 2 months, COC replied. COC noted “there were gaps in prevailing procedures at the time when the artefacts were donated to MHF in 1999. Procedures have since improved as the heritage institutions are now guided by NHB’s processes on the management of donated/on-loan artefacts.”
    COC did not reply to the questions posed in Hidayah’s complaint. Instead, it mentioned that, “… we will not be taking further action.” It seemed that the MHF is not held accountable. Read email.

  • 28 April 2016

    Hidayah replied to COC stating that they “… are very disappointed and dissatisfied with the ‘result’ of the COC’s investigation as the issues at hand are still not resolved.” She reprimanded the COC for not answering the questions brought up in the complaint and why the MHF has not been ordered to make any restitution or even apologise to the family for causing them undue prolonged distress.
    Hidayah stated that they have no choice but to seek legal advice and put forth their complaint to a higher authority. Read email.

  • 15 May 2016

    Abdullah Joffri wrote to the NHB to request for a copy of the loan agreement mentioned above (and other agreements) with an updated inventory list of all our artefacts either on display or kept at the MHC, Gedung Kuning or in NHB’s storage centre. Read email.

  • 14 June 2016

    Hidayah emailed Trudy Loh, Director of Heritage Institutions, NHB, on behalf of Abdullah. She reminder her that it has been a month since Abdullah’s letter and that they have received any response.

  • 22 June 2016

    Trudy Loh replied to Abdullah’s letter stating that the loan agreement was entered into “between Mohamad Khir Johari and … NHB.” As it was not a “NHB’s policy to release documents of a confidential matter entered into with other parties”, she asked us to contact Khir to request for a copy of the agreement.

    Hidayah replied:

    “Dear Ms Trudy Loh,

    Thank you for your response. For your information, my uncle Abdullah Joffri was present at the meeting with the NHB, the MHF and the family. He is the court appointed trustee of the estate of Haji Yusoff (Order of Court under the Originating Summons No: 60 OF 2002/F); it is strange that the NHB is unable to release ‘confidential information’ to him. In any case, I have cc-ed this email to Khir Johari. Abang Khir, please give us the copy of the loan agreement as soon as possible.

    The NHB and the MHF have not addressed the issue of the broken artefacts that Julina from the MHF has informed us on 6 April 2012. Please refer to the timeline of events in case either party has conveniently forgotten about the matter – http://gedungkuning.com/contributions

    The silence and unaccountability of the MHF is unacceptable and unbecoming of a Charity and an Institution of Public Character. The NHB and the MHF must address the broken artefacts matter (unless Julina has lied about the artefacts being broken in the first place) and the acknowledgement tags for our artefacts at Mamanda without any further delay. Four years is too long a time for the MHF keep mum to our initial query.”

  • 8 August 2016

    Abdullah has tried calling Khir many times since July but to no avail. Hidayah has also tried talking to Khir when she saw him but he seemed evasive. Finally, Hidayah sent Khir a letter (enclosing NHB’s email printout) informing him that Abdullah has been trying to contact him regarding the loan agreement, and requested Khir to revert to them soon.

  • 31 August 2016

    The estate’s lawyer wrote a letter to NHB to request for a copy of the loan agreement “which they are duly entitled to.”