Ipoh, Malaysia | Asia Samachar |13 May 2015 |
Sikhs in Ipoh, the state capital of Perak, had raised an alarm on alleged intensified moves by Punjabi Christians in luring Sikhs, especially from poorer neighbourhoods, to a Christian worship programme.
The trigger came with the widespread invites to Sikh families — through printed cards, WhatsApp messages and by word of mouth — inviting them to the church in Ipoh to celebrate ‘Khusian Da Mela’. The word Vaisakhi was not used in the card which claims that the programme was organised by the Punjabi Fellowship Ipoh (PFI).
In response, a Sikh youth organisation had sent a group of observers to the programme held at the Church of Praise at Perindustrian Ringan Sri Rapat, Ipoh.
“We felt that they had gone overboard with the invites, giving them openly to Sikhs. We just wanted to ensure that if Sikhs did turn up, we can advise them what the programme is all about,” Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (Perak Branch) Jathedar Jaswant Singh told Asia Samachar.
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The programme went ahead without any untoward incident, according to several people who were present at the location. The police had also sent its members to observe the function at the church located in a factory area about 8km from the Ipoh town centre.
When contacted, a PFI member denied that the group had targeted Sikhs for the function and also denied that it was to celebrate Vaisakhi, a key event in the Sikh calendar.
“We are also investigating. We want to know who is the person who has been distributing the flyers without our permission,” said Paramjit Kaur, whose name and number appears as a contact person on the invites sent out. She speaks fluent Punjabi.
However, in a separate text message to Asia Samachar from another member of the Christian fellowship, it was alluded that it could have ended in the hands of the Sikhs as their members had extended the invites to their extended family members.
“On our part, they are a few hundred of us. We gave invitations to mother, mother in law, brothers…. It might have tailed very far ahead,” said the sender.
It is understood that the Punjabi Christian group had been organising the event in Ipoh for the last four years.
Conversion out of Sikh faith to Christianity in Ipoh and its surrounding area has gained momentum in the last one year or so, said one senior member of the local Sikh community. “You kept hearing so and so had converted,” he said.
Some of the areas targeted were about an hour’s drive from the Ipoh centre. They included the Sikh Settlement in Tanjung Tualang (42km from Ipoh) and Tronoh Mines (49km form Ipoh). [Click here for a follow-up story on Tanjung Tualang].
“The kids in these places don’t get much Sikhi education. So they are more vulnerable,” he said.
UM Sikhs moulding young minds in Ipoh (Asia Samachar, 4 Mar 2015)