To deliberate on the economic and social challenges facing the Sikh community in Singapore, a one-day conference titled ‘Sikh Voices Conference’ is being organised on November 11. The main purpose of the conference is to catalyse thinking about the future of Singapore and the role of Sikh community in it. Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Communications and Information will discuss about Singapore’s evolving social compact.
Organised under the aegis of Young Sikh Association (Singapore) (YSA), about 200 people will be attending the conference including Singaporeans of other religions and ethnicities as well as recently naturalised Sikh Singaporeans. The conference is being organised at Raffles Town Club.
Speaking about the importance of the conference, Malminderjit Singh, YSA’s president, said, “For a few years now, YSA has been looking for opportunities to bring the community together to talk about Singapore’s future, including its challenges, and how the Sikh community can respond to them and its own evolving needs. We thought an interactive conference would be an appropriate platform for these discussions.”
The conference will feature three panel discussions on critical issues, such as Singapore’s economic future and international standing, the sustainability of local Sikh organisations and Singapore’s evolving social compact.
The first panel discussion will focus on the how the economic problems facing Singapore might affect the Sikh community. The panellist participating in the programme include Devadas Krishnadas, Founder & CEO, Future- Moves Group, Harjit Bhatia, Chairman & CEO, Asia Growth Capital Advisors (Singapore) and Inderjit Singh, CEO, Solstar International, serial entrepreneur and former Member of Parliament.
The second panel discussion will be about the challenges facing the Sikh community and sustainability of Sikh institutions. The panellists include Harjean Kaur, partner, Advocatus Law LLP, Karamjit Singh, senior consultant, JLL Singapore and Sarabjeet Singh, teacher, Ministry of Education.
Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, will be on the final panel. He will share his views on whether Singapore would be able to thrive if it reduced its emphasis on principles such as meritocracy, multiculturalism and a social compact that emphasises individual and family responsibility.
A ‘mini-hackathon’ has also been planned. During this activity, the conference attendees will discuss scenarios that are either already affecting the Sikh community or might in the future. They will then discuss the problems that these scenarios will present for Singapore and the local Sikh community, as well as how the community can effectively respond to them.
Rasveen Kaur, executive committee member at YSA, and one of the organisers of the conference, said, “We seldom have discussions about our current and future challenges. I think this activity might be the first time that most Sikhs will debate our challenges in public, and work out solutions in small groups. Persuading each other will also give them a taste of how difficult it can be to build a consensus on the problems we face, and the solutions to address them.”
YSA hopes the conference will pave the way for the Sikh community to collectively develop a strategy for dealing with its future challenges. It also hopes that more Sikhs, especially from the younger generation, will take ownership for developing and implementing the strategy.
The conference is organised by a group of young Sikhs who are between 18 and 26 years old. They are the second batch of participants of YSA’s Young Leaders Programme, launched in 2016, to identify and develop young Sikhs for leadership positions at the community and national levels.