Sikhs in Malaysia and Singapore

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Sikhs in Malaysia and Singapore - A brief explanation of how the Sikhs in Singapore have continued to maintain their identity, yet being a part of the society. Institutions created are part of the SARBAT DA BHALA concept of Sikhism.

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a presentation by Angad Singh, Graduate of Singapore Management University (SMU), Executive at A. C. Nielsen Angad.s.sodhi@gmail.com

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Agenda Migration and Immigration of the Sikhs Arrival in South East – Early Days Early Pioneers Last 50 years in Singapore Singapore – Prominent Sikhs Last 50 years in Malaysia Malaysia – Prominent Sikhs

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Migration and Immigration of the Sikhs

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The Arrival The first Sikhs arrived in Malaysia in the 1870s during the Third Larut War. This resulted in the inception of the Sikh Police Force in Taiping, Perak, in 1873. Sikhs played a large role in the transportation industry in the tin-mine states of Perak, Selangor and Negri Sembilan. Wherever there were Sikhs, a Gurdwara was sure to follow. The early Sikh Gurdwaras were established in barrack compounds, including the first Gurdwara in Malaysia, which was built in 1881 in Fort Cornwallis, Penang. Gurdwaras became a focal point for all Sikh religious, cultural and community activities.

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Early Pioneers - Singapore Sardar Tara Singh He was responsible for setting up the Singapore Khalsa Association, the Sikh Education Association and Guru Nanak Sat Sang Sabha (Katong Gurdwara Sahib). These organizations have played an instrumental role promoting and Sikh values and culture. The first punjabi, paath and kirtan classes to be held in Singapore were held at the Khalsa Association.

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The Last 50 Years - Singapore There are 7 Gurudwaras catering to a sangat of almost 20,000. The 2 main Gurudwaras are the Silat Road Sikh Temple and Central Sikh Temple. Along side the Silat Road Sikh Temple is a 7 story building - The Sikh Centre. This organization’s roll is to promote Sikh Values and look after the well being of the Sikh Community. The 7 story building includes: A Library Several class rooms A fully equipped Gym. An auditorium that collapses into a Multi-Purpose Hall. Apart from Kirtan and Sikh studies classes, martial arts (gatka) and Dhol classes are also taught. Regular health checkups are held as well. Silat Road Sikh Temple and Sikh Center Central Sikh Temple. Auditorium in Sikh Center

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The Last 50 Years - Singapore Sikh Sewaks was founded in 1978. This organization has been responsible for Gurmat Parchar to the Naujawans of the country. Main activities include annual samelan (Gurmat parchar) camps for the seniors and the juniors. Other activities like Naujawan talks, paath and kirtan by the beach are organized regularly. The Mighty Khalsa is a group of parents and children between the age group of 4 – 12. They hold darbars twice a month. In each session, children experientially learn about Sikhism and the Sikh way of life Kirtan by-the-beach Gurdwaras adopted Technology since early days

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The Last 50 Years - Singapore The Sikh Welfare Council (SIWEC) formulates overall community policies in respect of Sikh welfare services in Singapore. Their main activities include: 1.Rehab for Sikh Drug Addicts 2. Prison Counseling / Rehab 3. Programmes to mentor prison inmates towards being responsible citizens. 4. Financial Assistance for needy families

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The Last 50 Years – Singapore – Prominent Sikhs http://www.gurmat.info/sms/smspublications/understandingsikhismthegospelofthegurus/ Justice Choor Singh The 1st Chief Justice of Singapore is a self-made man, having risen from humble beginnings as the son of a security guard. After 17 years on the Supreme Court bench and 47 years in public service, he, retired in 1980. He focused his energies on writing, research and community service. He is the author of several books, mainly on Sikhism, including "The Lives of the Sikh Gurus" which is a text book for Sikh students, and "Understanding Sikhism" which is acclaimed worldwide as a masterpiece summary of Sikh history and religion.

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The Last 50 Years – Singapore – Prominent Sikhs Kartar Singh Thakral It would be easy to mistake Kartar Singh Thakral for just another conservative businessman in a city-state full of them. Except for his blue turban, the shy, slightly stooped executive is at first glance about as distinctive-looking as a bowl of rice. A thin, soft-spoken 63-year-old, he exudes caution and deference. But Kartar Singh Thakral is no corporate wallflower; he is one of Singapore's most daring entrepreneurs. And the Thakral group he heads is no ordinary family business; it is a dynamic, multibillion-dollar empire-one of the Sikh world's biggest--- spanning two dozen countries and employing 8,000 people. http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/personalities/kartar_singh_thakral.html

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The Last 50 Years – Singapore – Prominent Sikhs Davinder Singh Davinder is the CEO of Drew & Napier LLC. He graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1982 and joined the Litigation Dept of D&N. He was appointed Senior Counsel in 1997, in the first batch of Senior Counsel ever to be so appointed in Singapore. His successful involvement in numerous cases of high profile and landmark cases has led him to be considered as Singapore's most revered litigator and counsel of choice. Davinder was appointed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to advise on the implications of the legal issues arising from the bankruptcy (Chapter 11) proceedings for Lehman Brothers in the United States http://www.drewnapier.com/partners/davinder-body.htm He was elected as Member of Parliament in 1988 formerly an MP

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Dr Jasbir Singh, Deputy Director, SERC, A*STAR receiving the MTI Borderless Award, on behalf of the team, from Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry, at the MTI Firefly Symposium The Last 50 Years – Singapore – Prominent Sikhs Dr Jasbir Singh Dr Jasbir is the 1st Sikh Singaporean to have received a Phd. He too, like Justice Choor Singh is the son of a security guard. He serves as a Deputy Director at A*Star- ( AGENCY FOR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH ). In addition, he is also appointed as deputy registrar of marriages.

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Dr Jasbir Singh The Multi-faceted Sikh – Also nick-named PINK PANTHER Dr Jasbir also known as “Scotland” is one of the founding members of Sikh Sevaks and has been involved in Gurmat Parchar and Amrit Sanchar since 1970’s. The Last 50 Years – Singapore – Prominent Sikhs Finally, he has been the role model for the youth – holding the khanda and the pen with the same hand.

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The Last 50 Years – Singapore – Prominent Sikhs Manjit Kaur Wife of our Dear PINK PANTHER A Chemical Engineer working with CoreLab, Manjit Bhenji has been actively involved with the youth as well as the kids all throught her life.   In Singapore, she founded the Mighty Khalsa. Hailing from Malaysia, she has grown up attending samelans and regular youth sessions. Manjit Bhenji is a strong believer of the fact that  values have to be taught when the children are young  and that Sikh way of life is something everyone can lead no matter how old they are.    Inspite of travelling very regularly on business, she makes it a point to be there for the mighties. Apart from all of this she has been a very good friend and pillar of support of all the naujawans both in Singapore and Malaysia.

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Celebrations : 400th Year of Prakash and 300th Year as Guru Sahib 400th year Prakash Utsav At times like this all the 7 Gurdwaras join in. There was a Nagar Kirtan with Punj Piyaras leading the procession. It dutifully went from one Gurdwara to another. On the way, there was Kirtan going on in a systematic and dignified manner so that the Chinese continue to think of Sikhs as law abiding citizens.

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Being part of the Local Festivities Chingay Parade About 1 week after the Chinese New Year there is a procession that has many of floats going down the Orchard Road. In 1999 Sikhs participated in that and have being doing since.

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Our Naujawans - Singapore The youth in Singapore have a lot of energy and are committed to improving their socio economic status. An increasing number of Sikh Students are graduates from tertiary institutes and are holding white collared jobs with MNC’s. In addition, a large number of them are taking on the responsibility of doing Parchar. Amongst the various activities: They regularly conduct prison visits and counsel sikh prisoners. Visit old folk homes and orphanages on a regular basis and spend time with those who are not as privileged. Attending Inter Religious Organization events to tell fellow Singaporeans about who we are and what we represent. Camps for our youngsters to teach them about Sikhi.

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The Last 50 Years - Malaysia Gurpuri Orphanage It is an organisation that was established on 27 Oct 2000 to provide shelter and care to children who had none Giani Sukhdaiv Singh Ji, with the support of the Malaysian Sikh community established Gurpuri Foundation. Gurpuri Foundation presently provides for the needs of 47 children. These children are in the age group of 6 to 18. All of them go to the near by schools for primary and secondary education. Gurpuri Foundation runs on a welfare platform and is a Malaysian government registered charitable organisation. Giani Sukhdaiv Singh Ji

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The Last 50 Years - Malaysia Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia The Malaysian Sikh Youth have a voluntary organization which was officially formed in 1967. Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) organizes various religious, social and cultural programmes throughout Malaysia. It is also in tune with various other organizations directly or indirectly involved within the Sikh World. Regular activities of SNSM include :- Welfare projects. Educational programmes. Operating a Sikh reference bookshop. Setting up youth prayer sessions in the country.

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The Last 50 Years - Malaysia Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia Continuous dharmic parchar all over the nation. Organization of youth leadership and training camps. Representation of Sikh youth at governmental and other national forums. Programmes for spiritual, mental, social, physical and emotional development of youth and children. An Annual religious seminar to provide for Sikh youths in Malaysia and overseas to be together. Close to 1500 Sevadars and participants from all over the world attend this camp. Guru Maharaj Sawari comes in a helicopter and then is lead to the Samagam Sthan with a huge motorcade.

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Sri Dashmesh School This was set up by two brothers Harvinder Singh and Sukhdev Singh. Having been through the local schooling system, they realized that the schooling system in Malaysia was not well rounded. Thus they set out to establish a school. Today there are 300 students studying out of which about one third are non sikhs. Catering to the spiritual needs of students from varied religions has never been easy. The school gives the students an opportunity to learn their own mother tongues and to learn about their religions as well. Over the past few years the school has received numerous awards for excellence in academics and sports. The Last 50 Years - Malaysia Registration has been closed till 2013.

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Sri Dashmesh Band Co Founded in the early 1980’s by two brothers Harvinder Singh and Sukhdev Singh. Their aim was to give the Sikh youth a platform to meet on a regular basis and do something constructive. This in turn helped keep the youth off the street where they got into various kinds of trouble. In addition to channeling their energy, the band has also helped bring about a sense of belonging and brotherhood. The only Sikh Pipe Band in Asia has performed extensively throughout Europe South East Asia and Australia. Current Band Major is Terlochan Singh The Last 50 Years - Malaysia

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Terlochan Singh National Archer, Motivational Speaker and Band Major for Sri Dashmesh Band. The unassuming and humble Terlochan is a self trained Archer who represented Malaysia till 2006. He is the first Sikh to shoot on the Malaysian National Team and to be a record holder. As the Band Major, he has not only led the band to great heights. He has been a great mentor to all the band members. Inspite his busy schedule he never misses practice and is there for the annual samelans motivating the youth through his talks The Last 50 Years - Malaysia

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Dr Karminder Singh One of the highest ranking Sikhs in the Public Service. Having completed his Phd from Boston in International affairs. Dr Singh joined the Minister of Defence as an advisor to the deputy PM. In addition, he is also heading the Anti Terrorism Unit in Malaysia. Anyone who listens to his numerous lectures can tell that Dr Singh is extremely well read. Some of his notable lectures are on the Sikh Rehat Maryada and Mool Mantar. He has been devoting time to help revamp the curriculum at the annual samelans held around South East Asia. Apart from this he is classically trained in tabla and sings kirtan very well. The Last 50 Years - Malaysia

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Dr. Karminder Singh Dhillon, Director Anti-Terrorist Cell - - Reports to PM - Malaysia

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Harvinder Singh,CEO Incontro Tech Harvinder’s passion for engineering excellence, relentless push for performance and patience for self-reward has delivered a world-class company that is emerging here in Malaysia. Being himself very family oriented; believes that his philosophy of people empowerment is greatly motivated and complimented by the courage and support that they derive from their immediate families; spouses, parents and children. In addition, he is the co founder of the Sri Dashmesh Brand and School. The travels overseas and within the country on a regular basis he helps and guides the youth. The Last 50 Years - Malaysia

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Our Naujawans - Malaysia The youth in Malaysia have a lot of energy and are committed to improving their socio economic status. An increasing number of Sikh Students are receiving scholar ships and are going overseas to study and returning back home to help nurture the future generations. Almost every week there are youth activities all over the country. Be it in the form of weekend trips, camps or just a kirtan darbar. This helps them stay in constant touch with each other. Seva is a big part of their lives. There has not been a single event where help was needed and the Malaysian Sikh Youth did not show up in full force. Some youth spent close to 6 months in Acheh after the tsunami.

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Amrit Parchar In Malaysia and Singapore we have our own people doing amritsanchar. Both young and old take part in this seva. Before the Bata is prepared numerous talks are held with the sangat on what amrit is. We explain the historical importance and how the maryada came into being and how it applies to our lives today and will continue to apply till times goes on. This process is simplifed to 1 2 3 4 5 There is one god The relation is between you and your guru Do your Banis 3 times a day Be wary of the 4 khureits Maintain your 5 Kakars Finally Amirt is the beginning, there is a long journey ahead. Your companion is Guru Sahib !!! So don’t worry about not being perfect.

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For any further queries please feel free to contact me At angad.s.sodhi@gmail.com

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