Written by Sr. Jamilah Din (Daughter of late Mr. Mohammad Alli Din)
The United Muslim Association of Hong Kong (UMAH) was established in 1981 and registered as a charity in Hong Kong in 1993, managing an elderly home, Madrassah (Qur’an Learning School) and an International Primary School to serve Hong Kong residents. In the past, it has also received donations from many enthusiastic members of the community. Therefore, the affairs of UMAH is a matter of public interest.
As one of the previous council members and the eldest daughter of the late Chairman Mohammad Alli Din, I feel obliged to explain to the public what has been happening to the Association during the last ten years. During the last 8 years, some outsiders led by Mr. Raghbi started legal proceedings against my mother, Mrs. Amina Norman, and two other council members, Mr. Raheel Ahmed and Mr. Yusuf Yu. Since we were the legitimate UMAH council of management, therefore, we successfully defended against the plaintiffs (Mr. Raghbi and 5 others) and won the case in the High Court in 2015. Unfortunately, the plaintiffs continued their groundless litigation and now their appeal was also rejected on 1st August 2018. I would like to take this opportunity to report to you this matter in detail.
UMAH Elderly Home (Serving the community since 1992)
With the generous donation of the family of late Haji Omar Ramju Sadick, my father, the former Chairman, late Mr. Alli Din (may Allah bless his soul) opened the Haji Omar Ramju Sadick Care and Attention Home in Yau Oi, Tuen Mun. Since then, our current Chairman, Mr. Raheel, started assisting my father with miscellaneous issues related to the elderly home and subsequently, Mr. Raheel became a council member of UMAH in 2007.
Sheung Shui Masjid & Elderly Home Project (Land granted in 2006)
After years of struggle by my father in urging the Government to grant a piece of land for building a masjid in the New Territories, UMAH, was finally granted a piece of land about 2,000 square meters in Sheung Shui in 2006 for building a masjid and an elderly home. Since then, my father actively undertook fundraising and other work. Mr. Raheel actively assisted my father in the fundraising campaign. We, Mr. Raheel, my mother Mrs. Amina Norman, my sister Rashida Din and myself were elected as the members of the UMAH Council of Management. Details of the full UMAH Council of Management (2008) is as follows:
In 2009, our current Chairman Mr Raheel was appointed as the trustee of the Sheug Shui masjid. Mr. Raheel also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Mr. Din on behalf of UMAH and the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance to build the project.
Passing of Chairman and aftermath
At the end of 2009, my father, the late Mr. Din passed away due to serious sickness and hence we suddenly lost one of the founding fathers of UMAH. Moreover, some of the council members had left the country or were advanced in age and could not continue to serve in the council. I, Jamilah Din, being the eldest daughter of the late Mr. Din and a council member of UMAH, assisted in handling the issues related to succession of the council of management of UMAH.
After the death of my father, I met with some of the founding members and tried to invite them to help convene a general meeting so as to elect a new council to continue to nurture and develop UMAH. But, unfortunately, they excused themselves due to old age. So, I approached some enthusiastic members of the Muslim community and requested them to join the Association. In the end, we were able to convince Haji Muhammad Ijaz, Sr. Sharifa Leung and Br. Yusuf Yu to help. Strictly following the Memorandum & Article of the Association (M&A), they were recruited as members and then were nominated and elected to the Council of Management to fill the vacant posts. The Council of Management then decided to hold an Extra Ordinary General Meeting on February 23, 2010 to elect a new council.
But unfortunately, one of the council members, Br. Ayub Din, insisted on holding another separate general meeting on his own without the approval of existing Council of Management. Our Council of Management appointed Br. Yusuf to dissuade him, hoping that he would understand the procedure for calling an EGM or AGM and would cancel his planned AGM as it was not approved by the Council of Management. On different occasions, Br. Yusuf was accompanied by one or more of the following: Mrs. Amina Norman Din, Sr. Rashida Din, Mufti Arshad, Br. Muskin Khan, Mrs. Saleemah Pau, Sr. Sharifa Leung and Br. Raheel to persuade Br. Ayub to be united with other council members and not to establish a new group based solely on his individual wishes which had no legitimate foundation according to UMAH’s M&A. He was informed that the general meeting must be authorized by the Council of Management, convened by the Hon. Secretary. Unfortunately, Br. Ayub insisted on calling an AGM in early February 2010 which had absolutely no legitimate foundation.
First Extra Ordinary General Meeting (28th February, 2010)
On the other hand, our Council of Management held an Extra Ordinary General Meeting on February 28, 2010. Invitations were sent to Mrs. Khalidah Sadick, the widow of late Haji Omar Ramju Sadick, our patron of the elderly homes and three senior members, Haji Kasim Ma, Br. Ming-quen Yeung, and Mrs. Saleemah Pau, three Imams, Mufti Arshad, Qari Tayyab, and Imam Naseem as honorable guests.
A total of 82 members attended and a new Council of Management was elected:
The new Council nominated my mother Mrs. Amina Norman Din and Mr. Ahmed Raheel as Directors. The names of the new directors were submitted to the Company Registry and accepted on 29 March 2010. It should have been a smooth transition under the new leadership of a group of enthusiastic and capable council members, that the unfulfilled mission of my father, the former chairman, late Mr. Din would continue to grow and develop UMAH.
However, at the time of preparation for the updating of the bank account authorization, it was suddenly found that someone else also registered with the company registration office as directors of UMAH. Thus, the bank account authorization signature procedure was not completed.
Representatives of our Association immediately enquired with the Companies Registry and presented documents such as minutes of all General Meetings. However, the Companies Registry stated that they will generally register directors upon receipt of applications and documents. As for the background and the authenticity of the submitters, they will not verify them. In case of dispute, it can be resolved in the court.
Two groups of outsiders attempted to takeover UMAH
We learned that someone held a purported “general meeting” at UMAH International Primary School on 7 February 2010. Later, another third group held another purported “general meeting” in the elderly home on 23 March 2010. Two purported councils were thus elected. The two purported general meetings were never approved by the UMAH council. (According to the M&A of UMAH, a general meeting needs to be convened by the Hon. Secretary by the order of the Council of Management).
The two purported councils even filed their complaints to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in August 2010. And DOJ suggested that mediation should be arranged to resolve the matter.
Crises was not resolved despite our attempts towards a compromise
Despite being fully aware of the fact that the other two parties were not properly elected groups, we followed the advice from learned people that if litigation arises, it would be prolonged for years and the construction of the mosque project would most probably be suspended and there would be a great risk of the land being taken back by Government. Therefore, our council agreed to go for mediation with the other groups.
In this regard, an important mediation meeting was held in IUHK in November 2010 for which Br. A.R. Suffiad & Haji R.M. Omar were kind enough to serve as mediators. Mr. Ayub Din, Ms. Rita Din, Mr. Jamil Raghbi, Mr. Javed Shahab, accompanied by their solicitor Mr. Fisher, attended the meeting on behalf of their group while our Council of Management was represented by myself (Jamilah Din), Yusuf Yu, Mohammad Ijaz, Ahmed Raheel, Noordin Yeung and Tahir Nadeem. After a long discussion under the leadership of Justice A.R. Suffiad & Haji R.M. Omar, both parties agreed to form an interim body with 6 representatives from both sides. Mr. Jamil Raghbi and Mr. Yusuf Yu were to serve as coordinators.
But unfortunately, after that decision of the mediation, Mr. Raghbi’s group completely ignored what was agreed to and the drafted agreement was not signed. Instead, Mr. Javed Shahab issued a circular to call for AGM on 25 March 2012.
As a result, the Din family issued a public notice on 21 March 2012 to denounce the authenticity of the “AGM” to be convened by the party of Mr. Raghbi and Mr. Shahab.
Mr. Raghbi brought the matter to Court
On 22 April 2012, the group led by Mr. Raghbi approached the honourable High Court and applied for an injunction on Mr. Yusuf Yu, Mrs. Amina Din and Mr. Raheel to stop serving as Council members of UMAH with the excuse that the three of them were involved in issuing a Public Notice defaming them. This is how Mr. Raghbi’s group brought the matter into the court and caused a massive damage to the organisation that was serving the community. The plaintiffs led by Mr. Raghbi lost their case in the High Court on 14 May 2015 in which it was categorically ordered by the honourable High Court that the Plaintiffs, Mr. Raghbi, Mr. Shahab and four others, were never council members of UMAH. They were banned from representing as council members of UMAH. (Attached is the summary of the judgement from sealed copy).
Prior to the court hearing, two senior Muslim Community leaders, Haji Mohammad Ishaque and Mr. Qamar Minhas, also initiated a mediation effort and terms and conditions were agreed but Mr. Raghbi’s group once again ignored what was agreed upon.
Court Judgement release in 2015, Plaintiffs file an appeal and made every effort to delay the hearing
The plaintiff filed an appeal against the High Court judgment made on 14 May 2015 and used different tactics such as applying legal aid one by one and hence they managed to delay the appeal proceeding until 17 July 2018. Honorable Appeal Court announced the decision of the appeal on 1st August 2018.
- None of the grounds canvassed by the plaintiffs before the court has any merit. The appeal is dismissed accordingly
Unauthorized change of Management of UMAH International Primary School and risks closure
After the sad demise of my father in Dec 2009, the management of the primary school was changed to the plaintiffs (Mr. Raghbi and Mr. Shahab) without consulting the Council of Management of UMAH. We were repeatedly notified by government departments that rents, rates of the school remained unpaid. The Education Bureau also complained repeatedly that no audited reports were ever submitted since 2010. Due to their mismanagement, the number of students has been reduced to around 10 in June 2018 as reported.
Landmark Sheung Shui Masjid Project
For UMAH, the court case has been very damaging. The bank accounts are all frozen because the names of directors in the Company Registry cannot be updated until the court case is completely finished, and thus, the Elderly Home cannot accept any subsidies from the Government, which are much needed. Nor can the Association carry out fundraising activities easily, especially for the Sheung Shui Elderly Home and Islamic Centre Project.
The project was outsourced to the Ministry of Finance of Saudi Arabia through an Agreement Memorandum that was signed on 30 September 2009. According to the Agreement Memorandum, the project was named as ‘King Abdullah Islamic Centre’. Moreover, in order to efficiently supervise the construction process of the Sheung Shui Masjid Project, another Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed in 2013 according to which the project was handed over to the ‘The Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong’ (BOT). Since then, the BOT maintained their efforts to keep the project alive and paid more than One Million Hong Kong Dollars (HK$1 Million) as a land premium to the Lands Department to maintain the lease of this precious land. After the High Court Judgement in our favor, we, in collaboration with the BOT, tried our utmost to persuade our Saudi donor to start the construction of this landmark project as there was no obstacle to the project. In this regard, representatives of the BOT and our Council of Management and honorable Imams held several meetings with the Saudi Consulate and submitted several letters of appeal to the Saudi donor to start the construction or else there was always a threat of this precious land being taken back by the government. Despite our every possible effort, we could not receive a firm response from our Saudi donor as to when the work would begin.
Therefore, numerous Community meetings were called which were attended by representatives and leaders of prominent local Muslim NGOs. A Hong Kong-wide petition was also launched and received over 2,000 signatures within a week in support of Sheung Shui Masjid project.
As the community representatives wanted to ascertain the intentions of the Saudi sponsors, they insisted on further meetings with the Saudi consulate, which were held accordingly but without any positive outcome. After repeated efforts with the Saudi donor with no success, a consensus was formed that the Muslim Community of Hong Kong cannot afford to wait indefinitely for the reply of Saudi donor, therefore, it was decided to proceed with funding this project from within the Hong Kong community and alternate overseas donors in order to safeguard this landmark project.
Thus, the Sheung Shui Masjid Action Committee was formally constituted in January 2018, consisting of community leaders and NGO representatives. This Committee has the full power to make decisions regarding the Sheung Shui Masjid project and has conducted a fundraising campaign since 30 March 2018.
Since then, the committee has been trying their utmost to reach the initial fundraising target of HKD$ 10 Million. So far, an amount of more than HK$ 2.52 Million has been raised. We are deeply grateful to the generous donations and outpouring of support from both local and overseas Muslims.
I, on behalf of UMAH Council of Management and my family, would like to extend our warmest gratitude to Haji Mohammad Hanif (Founder & CEO of Amsua Group of Companies) for his unprecedented support and leadership as Chairman of joint committee that worked in collaboration with the BOT to keep the Sheung Shui Masjid Project alive.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge the help of all the mediators and the BOT and would like to extend my warmest compliments on the persistence of all the council members, the Honorable Imams, the Yau-Oi community, especially my mother Mrs. Amina Norman, Br. Ahmed Raheel, Br. Yusuf Yu, in the time of struggle and trial. I extend my special appreciation to my sister Rashida Din for her dedication as the home manager of elderly home in Yau Oi, Tuen Mun. I would also like to appeal to the public for their continuous support of the fundraising campaign for Sheung Shui Masjid project and pray to Allah for His guidance and support. May Allah (s.w.t.) accept our endeavors in His path and soon we all see the dream of the Sheung Shui Masjid be fulfilled. Aameen!
Written by Sr. Jamilah Din (Daughter of late Mr. Mohammad Alli Din)