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Singapore: Artifacts of Sikh saint-soldier put at display

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Photo from sikhsiyasat.net

Singapore: A two-day exhibition was put up at a gurdwara in Singapore on Saturday to display the artifacts belonging to a Sikh saint-soldier.

Photo from sikhsiyasat.net
Photo from sikhsiyasat.net

The exhibition, put up at Gurdwara Sahib Silat Road in Bukit Merah area of Singapore as part of a month-long festival to honour Sikh saint-soldier, Bhai Maharaj Singh, features some of his personal items such as a salottar (wooden stick used as a support and weapon), dastaar chakkar (turban steel quoits used to retain the shape of a turban) and a mala (rosary) belonging to the spiritual leader, The Straits Times reported on Saturday.

The items on display are on loan until July 5 from his descendants in India.

Picture from sikhunity.wordpress.com
Picture from sikhunity.wordpress.com

Bhai Maharaj is believed to be the first Sikh in Singapore. He was taken to Singapore in 1850 after he was arrested by the British. It was feared that his detention in India may cause unrest as he was revered by the Sikh community in India for his spirituality, patriotic fervour and for standing up against British dominion.

Bhai Maharaj was lodged in Outram prison in Singapore where no light or fresh air could enter. Six years later, on July 5, 1856, he passed away after losing his eyesight and developing throat cancer.

“We are very privileged to be able to exhibit some of Bhai Maharaj Singh’s personal artifacts this year. With this, people can learn even more about this great saint-soldier. Having served the community and having endeavoured to be a good human being through the attainment of high spirituality, Bhai Maharaj Singh is an embodiment of the concept of Miri Piri (spirituality and community service),” Gurdwara chairman Baljit Singh said.

This year marks the 159th year of his death.

(IANS)

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Halimah Yacob is Singapore’s First Woman President, Elected Without a Vote

"I am a President for everyone," said the newly elected Halimah Yacob, whose post is more representative than executive

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Halimah Yacob
Halimah Yacob who was the only candidate to get eligibility certificate, is now set to be Singapore's next President Wikimedia

Singapore, September 13, 2017 : Halimah Yacob became on Wednesday the first woman President of Singapore, being the only candidate who met the requirements for the presidential elections.

However, Yacob’s selection was overshadowed by criticism that it was undemocratic to give her the top post without a vote. Halimah Yacob, a 63-year-old Muslim of Malay descent, will take her oath of office on Thursday in a ceremony due to be held in Istana, the presidential residence and office, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s office said.

Yacob was the only presidential hopeful among three potential candidates to qualify for the post. This year’s election was reserved for Malay candidates. Two other contenders, businessmen Mohamed Salleh Marican and Farid Khan, did not meet one of the minimum requirements to run, Channel NewsAsia reported.

Yacob, accompanied by her husband and greeted by about 750 supporters, spoke outside the People’s Association building and called for unity in a speech delivered in English and Malay.

“We need every Singaporean to stand together shoulder to shoulder … we have not reached the peak yet and the best is yet to come,” Yacob said, urging citizens to “focus on the similarities that we have and not on the differences.”

In 2016, Singapore’s Parliament approved a constitutional reform which stipulated that the presidential elections would be reserved for one of the ethnicities of the multicultural city-state if no candidate from this group has occupied the post in the previous 30 years.

“I am a President for everyone,” said Halimah Yacob, whose post is more representative than executive.

Yacob was born in 1954 to a Muslim Indian-origin father and a Malay mother.

The mother of five started her political career with the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has been governing the country since 1959, and entered the Parliament in 2001.

She secured her first portfolio in 2011, as State Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports, and became the Speaker of Parliament in 2013.

In August 2017, Halimah Yacob stepped down as Speaker and resigned from the PAP to be able to run for President. (IANS)

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Sikh Awareness Campaign to Inform Americans About Sikhism is being Received Well

The National Sikh Campaign launched the "We are Sikhs" ad campaign on April 14, on the occasion of Vaisakhi to raise awareness about their religion

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Sikhs and Sikhism in the United states
National Sikh Campaign launched the "We are Sikhs" ad campaign on April 14, on the occasion of Vaisakhi. Pixabay
  • According to reports, the Sikh awareness campaign to spread awareness about Sikhism among the Americans has led to a rise in positive perception about their religion 
  • Non-profit organization, National Sikh Campaign launched the “We are Sikhs” ad campaign 
  • The survey took place in Fresno, California, where violence towards the American Sikhs has been occurring repeatedly 

Washington, September 4, 2017: A recent survey has noted that the Sikh awareness campaign to inform Americans about Sikhism has led to a rise in the positive perception about their religion.

The non-profit organisation, National Sikh Campaign launched the “We are Sikhs” ad campaign on April 14, on the occasion of Vaisakhi, which is considered a holy day by the community.

The survey took place in Fresno, California, where a number of Sikhs live and where violence towards Sikhs has been increasing since the past few years. Two people were killed in Fresno, in the recent months.

Television ads, grassroots events, digital ads and significant news coverage, all form parts of the Fresno effort.

The campaign has been actively engaged since April, in airing ads, conducting grassroots events in Gurudwaras across the United States and portraying Sikhs as good neighbors, proud Americans on popular news channels like the CNN and Fox News nationwide.

We are Sikhs campaign to inform people about Sikhism
‘We are Sikhs’ campaign. Twitter

The ultimate objective of the $1.3 million campaign was to spread awareness regarding the Sikh community, their identity, their belief in equality, their values and ethics like respect for women and every religion, and important information like the religion being the fifth largest in the world.

59 per cent of Fresno residents, which apparently makes the majority, say they are acquainted with at least some knowledge about Sikhs who live in America, according to a survey, as mentioned in the Times of India.

Sixty-eight per cent considered Sikhs as good neighbors and 64 per cent saw them as generous and kind.

Also read: Sikhism in Pakistan: Recalling the Forgotten Treasures of Sikh Heritage

The division of residents who had seen the ads are twice as likely to claim that they have at least some idea about the Sikhs living in America (78 percent) than the ones who haven’t seen the ads (40 percent), the survey noted.

According to the survey results, People who are likely to identify a bearded man wearing a turban with Sikhism, makes 57 percent of those who saw the ads, while those who believe that Sikhs believe in equality and respect for all people, makes 67 percent of the residents who have had seen the ad.

And 60 per cent of Fresno residents that happened to have seen the Sikhs ad believe they have American values.

“Despite tense race relations and an extremely polarized political environment, the We Are Sikhs campaign has been able to make headway in creating awareness of Sikh Americans, who can commonly be identified by their turbans and beards,” said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates.

“This effort is a testament to the Sikh community’s commitment to reaching out to people of all faiths to help them recognize that we all have shared values, and that is a ray of hope that proves that understanding can bring people of all walks of life together,” he added.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Sikhs remained to be a softer target in cases involving profiling, backlash and bigotry, than the average American.

In July, two separate incidents killed two Sikh Americans in one week in California.

In March, A partially masked gunman shot a 39-year-old Sikh man in the arm, outside his home in Kent, Washington. The gunman reportedly shouted, “go back to your own country.”

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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JY Pillay: Indian Origin Civil Servant Appointed as the Acting President of Singapore

As CPA Chairman since 2005, Pillay has been acting President each time the President goes on an overseas trip

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Acting President of Singapore
JY Pillay. Youtube
  • JY Pillay has been appointed as the acting President of Singapore
  • Pillay, also the Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, is a veteran civil servant of Indian Origin
  • The Singapore polls take place on 23rd September

September 2, 2017: Indian-origin veteran civil servant JY Pillay on Friday took over as Singapore’s acting President until a new head of the state is elected later this month.

The temporary appointment of Pillay, Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), follows the completion of President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s six-year term on Thursday, the Strait Times reported.

The nomination day for the Presidential election is September 13, followed by polling day on September 23.

According to the report, when the office of President is vacant, the first in line to exercise its powers is the CPA Chairman, followed by the Speaker of Parliament. This is the first time the office has fallen vacant since the elected presidency was introduced in 1991.

Pillay is no stranger to exercising the powers of the President. As CPA Chairman since 2005, he has been acting President each time the President goes on an overseas trip. He acted as President in May, when Tan made state visits to Europe.

He has served more than 60 such “stints”– the longest of which was 16 days in April and May of 2007 when then President SR Nathan visited Africa. (IANS)


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