Michael Daley: I wish to honour a wonderful man who lives in my electorate, Bawa Singh Jagdev. On Australia Day this year Bawa became the first ever Sikh Australian to have bestowed a Medal of the Order of Australia, an OAM. Bawa is a terrific fellow. He arrived with his wife in Sydney in 1975 after leaving his home in Nairobi, Kenya. He has had a very interesting life. He is an academic. He was born in the Punjab and was educated in the United Kingdom. He worked in Africa and finally settled in Australia. He has taught in schools and colleges in various countries. Bawa Singh Jagdev was born in a small village called Lohara in the Jalandhar district of the Punjab. He earned his professional qualifications at the Punjab University and emigrated to Kenya in 1959. He was further educated at the University of Exeter and returned to Kenya, only to find an inclement political situation.
Bawa and his wife, Gudiya, and their two children, Pradeep and Malvinder, moved to Sydney and adopted Australia as their new home. In 1975 there were not many Sikh people in Australia and Australians were not as enlightened then as we are now. Unfortunately, some people in Australia's population did not make this family feel as welcome as they should, and certainly not as welcome in this country as they are now. Sikhs are terrific people. They are full of fun and have attributes that we all admire and respect, such as love of family, having a good time and respect for elders. Bawa set about making life better for Sikhs and he helped to establish an umbrella body for Sikhs in Australia. At one time Bawa was the secretary of the Sikh Council of Australia and he is now the President of the Sikh Association of Australia.
Last Saturday night I joined with a former Premier and member for Toongabbie, Nathan Rees, the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane, MLC, and the Hon. Peter Primrose, MLC, at a wonderful dinner attended by approximately 330 people in Lidcombe. The dinner was organised by Bawa's daughter, Malvinder, and his son, Pradeep, to honour Bawa.
It was a terrific night. I spoke on that night about the night in 1995 that I knocked on his door to ask for his support. He shook my hand, gave me his support then and is still with me. He is a man for all seasons and for all times because he carries the best gifts his God has given him. He is a strong man who is very gentle—a soldier saint. He would have been a ferocious warrior in times gone by but now finds he is just as effective, thankfully for us all, using more peaceful means. He is the most loyal of friends, a dignified and supporting husband and a giving father. Most importantly, I think he is a staunch example for younger people in a world of mixed messages. Sikh of Sikhs – a staunch example ; The ten gurus of the Sikhs stressed the importance of family life and spiritual living by example ; A soldier saint ; Melting Pot