Young Sikhs reach out to influencer who made insensitive post, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Young Sikhs reach out to influencer who made insensitive post

This article is more than 12 months old

When a social media influencer's post calling two men wearing turbans "huge obstructions" to her view at the Singapore Grand Prix went viral, some among the Sikh community felt uncomfortable.

But increasingly heated online criticism of Ms Sheena Phua led a group of young Sikhs to an unconventional response: They invited her to a gurdwara so she could learn more about their traditions.

Mr Sarabjeet Singh, 34, president of the Young Sikh Association (YSA), told The Straits Times the gesture took some thought.

"Some responses to Sheena's original post felt like a case of cyber bullying. (Although) there were some among us who were also a little uncomfortable with her initial post, we recognised it as an opportunity for us to reach out and engage," he said.

Ms Phua, 29, an Instagram beauty and travel content influencer with over 76,000 followers, has apologised for the controversial remarks she made on Instagram two Saturdays ago.

She had posted a photo of two men wearing white turbans standing in front of her at the Singapore Grand Prix and captioned it: "Dang! Two huge obstructions decided to pop out of nowhere."

She later clarified the word "obstructions" was intended to refer only to the height of the two men who were both taller than her and had been taken out of context.

She told ST: "I did some reflection and agreed with (some) people that although the video was not outrightly racist, it was insensitive and caused a lot of distress to the Sikh community."


The YSA was formed in 2003 by a group of young Sikh Singaporeans to empower young Sikhs and enhance understanding among people of different ethnic groups.

Last Saturday, Ms Phua took up YSA's invitation to a four-hour visit to the Central Sikh Gurdwara in Towner Road.

She was given an introduction to the Sikh religion and culture, and she also participated in sewa, or an act of service, by trying her hand at making chapati in the community kitchen.

Ms Phua told ST she has a close friend who is Sikh but she had never discussed religion and culture with her, saying: "For many youth, the issues we discuss revolve around mundane issues like fashion, gossip and travel."

She hopes she will get more opportunities to interact with minority groups because "they have definitely contributed to (Singapore's) growth as a society."