Singapore's Young Sikh Association (YSA) has demonstrated the warmth and hospitality of the local Sikh community by responding to controversial remarks by an influencer with kindness and an offer to learn more about the culture.
On September 21, Singapore travel and beauty influencer Sheena Phua had posted an Instagram story that drew flak from many in the online community. The photo showed two tall Sikh men in white turbans standing in front of her, with a caption that says “Dang! 2 huge obstructions decided to appear out of nowhere.”
The post was swiftly screen-captured and reposted to various social media platforms. Among them were those by local musician Subhas Nair, who recently courted controversy by releasing a vulgar and racist rap video in response to the brownface ad saga.
Nair uploaded a screenshot on Instagram, tagging various brands that sponsor Phua, asking them if they “endorse[d] this?”
Sheena Phua has since apologised for "the upset the video has caused". In a statement, she explained that by "obstruction" she was referring to the height of the two Sikh men in front of her, and not their turbans, and that her message has been misinterpreted.
YSA reached out to Phua, acknowledging that her post had upset some members of the community. But rather than demanding an apology, the Sikh group offered her a visit to one of the Gurdwaras to learn more about the culture.
Sharing photographs from the visit on Facebook, YSA said in the accompanying post, "Don’t we all hope that when we make a mistake and cause unintended offence or hurt, that others will show us empathy, be understanding and forgiving?"
The group added, "Better yet, when we make mistakes don’t we all hope that we can expect people will act on their convictions and reach out to us in friendship, as opposed to reacting based on emotions and pointing fingers to blame."
Here are some images shared by YSA:
Below is the original Facebook post on the YSA home page: