3 Sikhs promoted at Malaysia’s top university

In their new roles, Dr Surinderpal Kaur, Dr Jatswan Singh and Dr Kiran Kaur will join Universiti Malaya senate

New deans at Universiti Malaya( (L-R) Dr Surinderpal Kaur, Dr. Jatswan Singh and Dr. Kiran Kaur
By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |

Malaysia’s top university promoted three Sikhs, including one as a dean, that will see them joining the institution’s Senate.

Universiti Malaya (UM) appointed Dr Surinderpal Kaur A Chanan Singh as the Faculty of Languages & Linguistics dean, making her probably the second  Sikh to hold a deanship at the Kuala Lumpur-based university.

At the same time, UM also appointed Dr Jatswan Singh Harnam Singh as the executive director of the Asia-Europe Institute (AEI) and Dr Kiran Kaur Gurmit Singh as the director of the Quality Management & Enhancement Centre (QMEC).

All three, who are associate professors, will hold their position until 2022.

“They must be very good in their respective areas to land these positions at the nation’s oldest university. They have definitely earned their positions because of their expertise,” Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) emeritus professor Dr Chatar Singh told Asia Samachar.

Dr Chatar, who was the backbone of USM’s School of Physics and Mathematics which he helped establish in 1969, began his academic life when he joined UM University as a lecturer in Physics in 1968.

“It’s was a pleasant surprise to see the elevation of three Sikhs at a go. It speaks well of their years of dedication and work at the university,” said another senior academic.

Dr Surinderpal, who has been the faculty’s deputy dean since January 2018, is an expert in areas like humanities, linguistics and literature as well as democracy and governance (political discourse, electoral dynamics, protests, dissent, demonstrations, terrorism and insurgency).

She co-authored Gender and the Changing Face of Higher Education in Asia Pacific which was released last year.

Dr Surinderpal, a PhD holder from UK’s Lancaster University, has also been active on the Sikh community front. In 2016, she took an active part when Kultar’s Mime, a theatre play from US, came Malaysia.

She also spearheaded two plays – ‘Marjana to Mittar: Bhai Mardana’s Story’ in 2017 and ‘Tribute to the Tenth’ in 2018.

The first Sikh dean at UM was Prof Dr Satwant Singh Dhaliwal who holds the distinction of being the nation’s youngest professor when appointed in 1968. He had set up UM’s Faculty of Science and served as its dean.

Dr Jatswan, who holds a PhD from Leeds University, is an expert in areas like conflict resolution, foreign policy and comparative politics for contemporary Southeast Asia. He is the author of Historical Dictionary of Brunei Darussalam and is an expert on Myanmar.

On her part, Dr Kiran Kaur is from the Department of Library & Information Science, Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology.

The holder of a PhD from UM, she began as a public school teacher where she taught for eight years, and then as a UM librarian for four years. She then joined the faculty as an academic staff in mid-2003.

Dr Kiran’s research interests include information services, service quality, quality management, academic librarianship, social networking, community information services, social capital and scientometrics.

QMEC is responsible for accreditation and quality assurance of all levels of academic programmes in UM.


The Sikh who almost became Vice-Chancellor of UM! (Asia Samachar, 17 Feb 2015)

Two Sikh academics bag Malaysian national book awards (Asia Samachar, 5 April 2019)

Dr Baljit inducted into prestigious Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (Asia Samachar, 25 Sept 2018)

Jasjit made dean at Rutgers School of Public Health (Asia Samachar, 25 Jan 2015)

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |


  1. Another Sikh who was a dean at University Malaya was Prof (Mrs) Jasbir Sarjit Singh, younger sister of Prof Satwant Singh Dhaliwal. She was the Dean of the Institute of Advanced Studies in 1985.

    Thank you.
    Kuldip Singh s/o Durbara.

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