Sikh medical student in Hong Kong wants to change attitudes towards ethnic minorities

"Patients might develop a different perspective on people with turbans in Hong Kong when they see me, a turbaned do...

Sukhdeep Singh, 23, is used to getting stares. "It's because I'm so handsome," he says, chuckling. At nearly 1.9 metres, Singh naturally stands out from most Hongkongers, but he believes his height is not the only reason he is considered different.

"Some people who assume I don't understand Cantonese would comment on my turban in front of me, and on the MTR, people would rather squeeze themselves into more crowded rows than take the empty seats next to me."

Singh is a final-year medical student at Chinese University. When he graduates next year, he will become one of a handful of Sikh doctors in Hong Kong - and one of the few to wear a turban. While not all Sikhs wear turbans, Singh dons one as an article of faith and to keep his uncut hair tidy and clean. He has been letting his hair grow since he was about nine as a show of faith.

"The sad reality is, when I'm wearing scrubs and a lab coat, I get treated differently. If I'm wearing normal clothes, no one would believe I am a medical student," says Singh, who is one of about 12,000 Sikhs in the city.

"Patients might develop a different perspective on people with turbans in Hong Kong when they see me, a turbaned doctor, and, hopefully, start to view other ethnic minorities differently."...

...Last year, Singh and other young professionals founded Pargaas, a non-profit organisation that hopes to empower ethnic minority youth. Pargaas holds workshops on higher education and self-improvement.

"If we want to improve the number of ethnic minority kids getting into higher education, you need an organisation that can help them improve basic skills like CV writing. There weren't many educated Sikhs who could run an organisation like Pargaas, but now there are," Singh says.

He adds that Pargaas is also building a database on the characteristics of the Sikh community to look at what needs to be improved.

"We want to achieve harmony and to help others understand our culture. I just hope people on the receiving end would listen with open hearts."

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