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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launches landmark publication on Singapore Sikhs’ contribution to nation-building
Singapore’s Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong launched a landmark publication on the Sikhs in Singapore, as he also paid a glowing tribute to the Sikh community.
Gracing the Sikh community dinner on 28 November 2015, Mr Lee launched a milestone book published by YSA in conjunction with SG50 titled ‘Singapore at 50 – 50 Sikhs and Their Contributions’, which highlights the contributions of the Sikh community towards the nation. Launching the publication, Mr Lee said: “I hope this commemorative book will inspire the next generation of Sikhs to excel and serve Singapore.”
The publication, which has received funding from the SG50 Celebration Fund, honours 50 notable Sikhs who have contributed to Singapore’s development and nation-building across various fields including sports, politics, business, academia, civil society and the uniformed services.
Speaking at the same event, Mr Malminderjit Singh, President of YSA and Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Sikh Community Dinner, explained that his team launched the book project in July 2014 to commemorate Singapore’s jubilee year as well as to document the Sikh community’s contributions to the nation. He stated: “YSA felt that if we were to embark on any celebratory project, it had to be truly meaningful and reflective of our sentiments and beliefs. We cannot celebrate the notion of Singapore without recognising the values of meritocracy and multi-racialism. Undoubtedly, the Sikh community has benefited from both the policies of meritocracy and multi-racialism and the individuals featured in this book reflect that. For a small community to be able to produce leading and notable members of the government, uniformed services, judiciary, academia, sports, business and professional communities is as much a reflection of the strength and success of Sikhs here as it is of the openness and willingness of a system that recognises their capabilities and allows them to thrive in it, regardless of race, language or religion.”
Mr Lee also lauded the Sikh community’s contributions to the nation at the event. Addressing the crowd, he said: “The Sikh culture and religion emphasise values shared by Singaporeans of all races and religions – mutual help, community service, equality, tolerance and respect for others.” He hoped that the Sikh community will continue to live out the values embodied in their faith, in particular emphasising the values of selfless service and the sharing of fruits of one’s labour as these have brought many Sikhs to volunteer their time, talent and efforts for community service and philanthropic causes, helping to strengthen the social sector.
Here, Mr Lee added that the concept of chardi kala (being constantly in a positive state of mind) was useful as this has brought individuals in the community to constantly improving themselves and helping others around them, which is very much in line with the ethos of the wider Singapore society.
At the same event, the Singapore Sikh Education Foundation (SSEF), which administrates Punjabi as a mother tongue language in Singapore, celebrated its 25th anniversary by honouring its teachers and staff who have been with the organisation since its inception.
Jointly organised by YSA, the SSEF and Sikh Sewaks Singapore, the dinner attracted close to 500 guests from the Sikh community and from various institutions across Singapore.