Surjit joins Singapore’s Presidential Council for Minority Rights

Singapore | Asia Samachar | 2 April 2015 


Singapore president Tony Tan Keng Yam has appointed former Sikh Advisory Board chairman Surjit Singh and two others as new members of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights (PCMR).

The two others are the Catholic Church’s Archbishop William Goh and former mufti Shaikh Syed Isa Mohamed Semait.

Surjit is the only Sikh in the council consisting of 19 members, with five permanent members who include the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“They are all respected religious and community leaders, and will strengthen the PCMR,” said Lee in a posting on his Facebook page.

“The PCMR was set up to reassure our minorities that laws passed by Parliament will not discriminate against them. After Separation in 1965, Mr Lee Kuan Yew commissioned a review of the Constitution, and one outcome was the PCMR. It has served us well – another of my father’s legacies.”

The council, created in 1973, ensures that laws passed in Parliament do not discriminate against any racial or religious community, according to a report in Straits Times.

It also advises the President on nominees to the Presidential Council for Religious Harmony, Malay Community Committee and the Indian and Other Minority Communities Committee. The two committees certify minority candidates for parliamentary elections, the report added.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Surjit (left) and his family after the appointment ceremony -- PHOTO FROM LEE SHIEN LOONG FACEBOOK
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Surjit (left) and his family after the appointment ceremony — PHOTO FROM LEE SHIEN LOONG FACEBOOK


Archbishop Goh was sworn in by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who chairs the council, on Wednesday. Mr Shaikh and Mr Singh were sworn in at the Istana on Thursday afternoon, in a ceremony officiated by President Tan.

The report in Singapore's Straits Times, 2 April 2015
The report in Singapore’s Straits Times, 2 April 2015

Their appointments are for a three-year term, beginning April 1 this year.

With their appointments, the council now consists of 19 members, comprising the chairman, five permanent members and 13 other members.

The five permanent members are Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and former Cabinet ministers Othman Wok and S. Dhanabalan.

Other members are Attorney-General VK Rajah, Justice Steven Chong, Mr J Y Pillay, Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia, Mr Othman Haron Eusofe, Mr Timothy James de Souza, Mr Abdullah Tarmugi, Professor Chan Heng Chee, Mr Barry Desker and Mr Philip Jeyaretnam.

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew had been one of the permanent members. He died on March 23.


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