SKA Grand Opening 30 December 2017
Date: 30 Dec 2017 @ 7pm
Venue: SKA Level 5 Grand Ballroom
Guest of Honour: Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam
DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the Opening of the New Singapore Khalsa Association Building Celebration Dinner on Saturday, 30 December 2017 at the Singapore Khalsa Association Building
Mr Mohinder Singh, President of the Singapore Khalsa Association
Mr Charanjit Singh, Chairman of the Organising Committee
Ladies and gentlemen, Sat Sri Akaal
It is my pleasure to join all of you tonight to celebrate the opening of the Singapore Khalsa Association’s (SKA) new building. I still recall the Vesakhi celebration at the old building that I joined in some years back, and am happy to be back here at this new and splendid place for the community to gather.
SKA’s Origins and Growth
The SKA on Tessensohn Road has for over a generation been a focal point for all in the Sikh community, a place where all could come together for social, cultural and recreational activities.
What is not always remembered is how SKA began in colonial Singapore in the 1930s, when locals were not welcome in the established clubs on the Padang. In the true Sikh spirit of Chardi Kalaa, a group of young Sikh schoolboys started a makeshift club in a wooden hut at a playing field near Sungei Bendemeer. Over time, membership in the club grew, the range of activities expanded and an interim SKA clubhouse was established at Jalan Bahagia in 1962. But four years later in 1966, the clubhouse had to make way for development.
That’s when a group of Sikh pioneers stepped forward to realise a bolder vision for the community. They secured this plot of land at Tessensohn Road, raised funds from well-wishers within and beyond the Sikh community, and in 1970, established a permanent club at this site.
The story of SKA is one of how the community and successive generations of Sikh leaders have sustained that spirit of Charhdi Kala through the years, providing ever better social, educational and recreational facilities for both your members and the wider Singapore community.
SKA has built on the spirit of solidarity within the community as well as networked with SINDA and others to meet the Sikh community and Singapore’s changing needs. Today, around 800 children are learning Punjabi through the language classes run by the Singapore Sikh Education Foundation (SSEF). SKA also runs a kindergarten, the Khalsa Kindergarten, which is open to both Sikhs and non-Sikhs, where lessons are conducted in Tamil, Hindi and Punjabi.
Additionally, the Sikh Welfare Council works with SINDA, voluntary welfare organisations and government agencies to help the less fortunate. Youth activists in the Young Sikh Association also actively reach out to youth to help them aspire, and to nurture a future generation of community leaders.
The Sikh community has also gone beyond serving its own. In fact, the Association’s premises itself has evolved into a meeting place for Singapore Sikhs to network among themselves, as well as with their friends from the larger Singaporean community. Almost 70 per cent of bookings for the usage of SKA’s facilities are by non-Sikh individuals or organisations.
The SKA has also collaborated with community organisations such as Central CDC and People’s Association to encourage participation in the annual Vesakhi Mela, which celebrates the rich Sikh heritage and cultural tradition. Increasingly, more Singaporeans of other races are joining in the celebrations, which provides an opportunity for them to appreciate some of your vibrant heritage. At the Mela, multicultural teams compete in games and sporting activities such as hockey, soccer and netball.
Underpinning all of this is the culture and philosophy of the Sikhs, with its emphasis on 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. It is one of the many statements of where we are today – a peaceful, multiracial society.
The effort from SKA and all Sikh community leaders gathered here to continuously engage and embrace the wider Singapore community in many of your activities is commendable.
In a world of where divisions and strife is growing, we must take a keen interest in each other’s lives, participate wherever possible in each other’s cultures and activities in Singapore, and build friendships through such interactions - friendships that bridge differences in backgrounds of all forms. They make us a stronger society.
Once again, I want to congratulate SKA as you celebrate this major milestone. I look forward to your good work of contributing to building a strong and inclusive Singapore society.
I wish you many more years of success and a Happy New Year in 2018.
~ DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam