Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA), the 86 year old outfit that began as a sports club in 1931, today officially launched its spanking new headquarters that underwent a $12 million makeover, placing high hopes on the building to continue playing a focal role for Sikhs and the wider Singapore community.
Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam inaugurated the ceremony held this (30 Dec 2017) evening.
For the past four decades, Tharman noted that the SKA building at Tessensohn Road has been a familiar focal point for the Sikh community, and a centre for social, cultural and sporting activities.
“SKA has also promoted mutual support within the community, and has built up a strong network with other Sikh institutions….Beyond serving the Sikh community, the Association has reached out to the wider Singapore community,” he said in his remarks prepared for the souvenir book for today’s launch.
He added: “Your religious philosophy and culture emphasise mutual help, respect for others, and community service or ‘seva’. The practice of open kitchens at all Sikh Gurdwaras, where anyone is welcome for a meal, is exemplary. More Singaporeans are also participating in the annual Vesakhi Mela which celebrates your vibrant cultural heritage, and reinforces our multicultural ethos.”
In his speech, SKA President Mohinder Singh said he hoped the community would consider the SKA as a choice venue to host not only family celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries but also talks and forums for your organisations.
“We hope the enhanced building provides the ambiance to attract both young and old, families and friends from not only the Sikh community but the Singapore community which use the SKA for their events,” he said.
The necessity for the ‘overhaul’ of the SKA building, it was driven by escalating maintenance costs as well as the evolving needs of members and the community at large, said SKA opening gala dinner organising committee chairman LTC (Ret) Charanjit Singh in his remarks in the souvenir book.
Touching on the background of the building, Mohinder said the SKA building at Tessensohn Road was constructed in the late 1960s as a focal point for the educational, cultural, sporting and social needs of the Singapore Sikh community.
“Until the early 1990’s, the building was mostly used for classes to teach the Punjabi language for young Singaporean Sikhs. On weekends, the SKA auditorium at level 2 hosted both Sikh and non-Sikh wedding ceremonies while level 1 was used for lunch or dinner for wedding guests.
“In the late 1990’s, a major renovation to air-condition the level 2 hall saw it transformed into a key venue for social functions while Level 3 was converted into a restaurant and lounge. Another room at Level 4 was also renovated to meet the growing demand for social function space. The building’s power supply was also upgraded to meet requirements which had not been anticipated in the original SKA building,” he said.
In 2013, SKA oganised a retreat to seek the Sikh community’s views on the future role of the SKA and features for the new building.
“The feedback was used to engage our community leaders, members and building consultants to finalise the design brief before calling for tenders. Construction commenced in November 2014 and was completed in November 2016 at a cost of approximately $12 million,” he said.
The Lee Foundation contributed $1.2m towards the efforts of the makeover of the new builiding.
“The Lee Foundation was also the major donor in the 1960s for the original building, and this time again donated generously. We have named the second storey hall “Lee Foundation Hall” to show the Sikh community’s gratitude to Lee Foundation for its substantial donations and unwavering support over the years,” he said.
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