By Asia Samachar Team | SINGAPORE |
Sikh Advisory Board (SAB), a conduit between the Singapore government and the estimated 12,000 strong Sikh community, has a new team at its helm.
Members of the newly appointed board met on Nov 19 where they elected a new chairman and secretary among themselves.
At that meeting, journalist and active Sikh community volunteer Malminderjit Singh was elected chairman and Satwant Kaur as secretary.
Malminderjit takes over the role from veteran Sikh leader Surjit Singh Wasan, a four-term chief since 2005.
Malminderjit, 42, digital news editor at Singapore-based Channel News Asia (CNA), is the youngest Sikh to lead SAB in the recent time.
The new 17-member team includes five members who are 42 years old or younger as part of its attempt to inject more diversity into its ranks in terms of age and gender.
Besides Malminderjit, these are 42-year old businessman Baldhiraj Singh Dang, who was serving his second term on the board and newcomers Sukhveer Singh Bajaj, a businessman, Singapore Armed Forces officer Avtar Singh – both of whom are 37 years old – as well Simranjit Singh, the 41-year-old CEO at Guardant Health AMEA.
Also joining the team are seasoned community leaders such as Charanjit Singh and Jasmindar Singh Gholia.
Besides hitting a note of renewal and diversity, the new board has also attempted to take into account continuity.
Malminderjit and Satwant were secretary and assistant secretary, respectively, of the earlier board. Six other members had also served on the previous team – Makhan Singh, Charanjit Singh, Baldhiraj, Harbans Singh, Sarjit Singh and Harjit Kaur.
The strong blend of experience and renewal was heralded by community leaders.
“I am sure that with the leadership of Malminderjit and his team of experienced and young members, it bodes well for the Sikh Advisory Board to continue to be the institution linking the Sikh community to the government,”Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) president Baljit Singh told Asia Samachar.
Malminderjit is of course no stranger to the SAB or serving the Sikh community. The former president of the Young Sikh Association Singapore (YSA), has served as SAB secretary for nine years since 2011.
Besides initiating and running several community projects, the economics-trained Malminderjit has also edited two publications on the Sikh community in Singapore and last year authored an anthology of poems based on Sikhism.
When contacted via text message, he told Asia Samachar: “I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve the community in this capacity. Although I have had the good fortune of working with and learning from two SAB Chairmen – Mr Surjit Singh Ji and Mr Jarmal Singh Ji – as well as the Coordinating Council of Sikh Institutions (CCSI) Chairman Mr Inderjit Singh Ji and the rest of the community leaders, I am aware that I am relatively young on this journey of community service and have big shoes to fill.”
His appointment was well-received by others within the community who also saw it as a reflection of the openness of community elders to provide opportunities to younger members to serve in leadership roles.
“I can very confidently say that the SAB has chosen a most appropriate and a well-qualified person for the position,”Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA) president Hernaikh Singh wrote in a Facebook post congratulating Malminderjit.
“I want to also applaud the members of the SAB for electing a young leader of the Sikh community for such an important portfolio. It is a strong endorsement by community leaders and representatives on the SAB that a person’s abilities, capabilities and commitment are crucial to serving the community and society.”
Two other recent SAB chairmen were retired senior police officer Jarmal Singh (2003-2005, 2014-2017) and school principal and Ministry of Education senior official Bhajan Singh (1989-1995, 1997-2003).
Over the years, the SAB has advocated for many favourable outcomes for the Sikh community in Singapore, including most recently working with the government to ensure a safe and gradual re-opening of the gurdwaras in Singapore during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SAB was started by the British before the Second World War to advise the Singapore Government on matters concerning the Sikh religion, customs and general welfare of the Sikh community. Comprising five members nominated by the Government, the SAB was chaired by the Chief Police Officer, an Englishman with proceedings conducted in Malay, according to information at its website.
It was re-constituted in 1948 with Master Sunder Singh Wasan elected as the chairman. The current SAB board has 15 members, 11 from the 7 gurdwaras and 4 nominated by Government.
SIKH ADVISORY BOARD OUT-GOING TEAM
(For the Period 15 November 2017 to 14 November 2020. Source: SAB website, downloaded on 23 Nov 2020)
Chairman: Mr Surjit Singh s/o Wazir Singh (Minister’s Appointee)
Secretary: Mr Malminderjit Singh (Minister’s Appointee)
Members: Ms Harjit Kaur (Minister’s Appointee)
Mr Sarjit Singh s/o Sarmukh Singh (Minister’s Appointee)
Mr Baldhiraj Singh Dang (Sri Guru Nanak Sat Sang Sabha)
Mr Charanjit Singh s/o Gurbachan Singh (Pardesi Khalsa Dharmak Diwan)
Mr Dalbir Singh s/o Badar Singh (Sri Guru Singh Sabha)
Mr Harbans Singh (Khalsa Jiwan Sudhar Sabha)
Mr Harjit Singh s/o Sucha Singh (Central Sikh Gurdwara Board)
Mr Jagdev Singh s/o Satwant Singh (Gurdwara Sahib Yishun)
Mr Makhan Singh s/o Sucha Singh (Sri Guru Singh Sabha)
Mr Nirmal Singh s/o Gurnam Singh (Khalsa Dharmak Sabha)
Ms Satwant Kaur Khaira (Pardesi Khalsa Dharmak Diwan)
Mr Taranjit Singh Grewal (Sri Guru Nanak Sat Sang Sabha)
Mr Turlochan Singh s/o Veer Singh (Khalsa Dharmak Sabha)
Surjit Singh to stay on Singapore’s official interfaith council (Asia Samachar, 16 Sept 2020)
Sikh Advisory Board Singapore condemn terror attacks on Christchurch mosques (Asia Samachar, 15 March 2019)
Malminderjit youngest ever to head SICCI (Asia Samachar, 26 Feb 2015)
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