Security Guidelines on Carrying the Kirpan in Singapore
Introduction to the Kirpan
1. Initiated Sikhs who have undergone the Amrit ceremony, akin to baptism, are required to don the kirpan (a traditional small sword) as part of their religious faith. The kirpan is one of the Panj Kakkar (five Ks) uniforms that all initiated Sikhs are obligated to wear as a reminder of their duty to fight injustice and maintain the independence of spirit.
2. The word kirpan comes from two words which translate as mercy (kirpa) and honour (aan). Sikhs do not perceive the kirpan as a weapon. Consequently, the translation into ‘dagger’ is inappropriate, given the pejorative association between a dagger and violence. However, no English term captures the true cultural meaning of the kirpan.
Security Criteria for Carrying of Kirpan
3. Singaporean law has made allowances to ensure Sikhs can carry the kirpan in public, without compromising security, by observing the following criteria which were officially implemented since 1 April 2012.
a. The blade should not be more than six inches (approximately 15 cm).
b. The blade should be blunted or dulled.
c. It is to be always sheathed and not openly displayed.
d. It should be worn under the dress.
Entry into Events with High Security
4. Entry will be allowed if a kirpan is assessed to be an accessory and inoperative as a weapon (e.g. pendant).
5. Otherwise, carrying of the kirpan into events with high security (e.g. NDP or events attended by VVIPs) will be prohibited even if the security criteria are met.
6. Sikhs detected carrying the kirpan at these events will be advised to safe keep their kirpan elsewhere (e.g. vehicles) if they wish to enter.
7. Existing on-site facilities may be utilised to keep the kirpan however these should be considered as a last resort because such arrangements are contingent on ground constraints such as availability.
Entry into Key Installations
8. Examples of key installations are the Istana, Parliament House, Government Buildings, Military Facilities, PUB, etc. Entry is subjected to security arrangement by the respective domain owners.
9. Except for the Istana and Parliament House, kirpan meeting the security criteria would be allowed into installations under the purview of the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
Carrying of Kirpan in Public Areas
10. SPF officers can conduct physical checks on persons in a public place when there are grounds to do so.
11. Should a kirpan be found, the SPF officers would consider if the person is a baptised Sikh and does the kirpan meet the security criteria.
12. If the kirpan does not meet the security criteria and there are no concerns, the Sikh will be directed to consult SAB on the recommended type of kirpan.
13. If the kirpan does not meet the security criteria and there are concerns, then the kirpan may be seized for assessment by the Arms & Explosives Branch, SPF.
Incoming Travelers at Checkpoints
14. To facilitate existing screening processes, travellers are advised to declare their kirpan to the Customs officers at the checkpoint.
15. Travellers will be allowed to proceed if their kirpan meets the security criteria even if they did not declare their kirpan at the checkpoint and it was discovered by the Customs officers through a random search.
16. Travellers may have their kirpan seized for assessment by the Arms & Explosives Branch, SPF if it does not meet the security criteria, even in the absence of security concerns.
17. To avoid inconvenience to their trip, travellers are encouraged to clarify their concerns with SAB prior to their arrival in Singapore.