| Petaling Jaya, Malaysia | 28 Sept 2015 | Asia Samachar |
A forum deliberating the socio-economic and social issues affecting Sikhs in Malaysia have identified three areas requiring immediate attention: strengthening family institutions, youth development and gurdwara transformation.
The three areas were narrowed from more than a dozen issues raised in the research report by a group of academician commissioned by the Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO).
The half-day session in Petaling Jaya yesterday (27 Sept 2015) saw the 60-odd participants grilling the researchers on their findings and also suggesting ways to move forward with the report.
“The research is a good start. The follow-up and implementaion is the key,” Parti Punjabi Malaysia (PPM) national treasurer Rajinderjit Singh tells Asia Samachar.
Among the other participants were Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry secretary-general Himmat Singh, a former telecommunication company senior general manager Jasbir Singh Sekhon, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) secretary Dr Jasbir Singh, Sepang Municipal Council city councillor Santokh Singh Cheema and Subang Sikh Association Selangor (SSAS) president Amrick Singh.
There were also representatives from a number of gurdwaras, including Petaling Jaya, Setia City, Subang and Ampang.
The forum also attracted many Sikhs from the academia, including Prof Kuldip Kaur who is also the Punjabi Education Trust Malaysia (PETM) director of research and development.
Others from academia included Prof Bhajan Kaur, Dr Harinder Rai Singh from UITM, Dr Surinderpal Kaur from Universiti Malaya, historian Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi and Narinjit Singh from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
They had posed some tough questions, including on the methodology adopted, to the research team led by Dr Sarjit Singh from University Putra Malaysia (UPM), who is also secretary of the national unity cluster at the Council of Professors Malaysia.
The other team members present were Dr Ahmad Tarmizi Talib (UPM), Dr Charanjit Kaur Darshan Singh (UTAR), Dr Jaspal Singh (Taylor’s University) and Dr Puvaneswaran Kunasekaran (UPM). Another research member Dr Sivapalan Selvadurai (UKM) was not present.
In the ensuing discussion, Dr Harinder Rai said: “We have to bring about Sikh parcharaks (preachers) with pragmatic views and not story telling. Parchaar has to change.”
On this point, SNSM’s Dr Jasbir said that ‘we need a reform for our Sikh religious societies’.
Dr Bhajan Kaur suggested that Sikhs look at the best practices of the other religious communities. “The Buddhist, for example, face similar threats to us, like conversion to Christianity,” she told the forum.
“We must harness the use of technology to reach out to the youth,” said Ashwinder Kaur from the Faculty of Creative Industries at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).
SSAS’ Amrick noted the dire need for a proper syallabus for Sikh history. “We also need some focus on culture. The youth would like to get together for fun. We need to attract them with activities like bhangra, not banning bhangra. This will bring the children to the gurdwara. Let us not focus on religion alone,” he told the forum.
On leadership, educationist Dr Gurcharan Singh noted local Sikh organisations do not talk to each other and that they cannot come together.
“We are lions sitting in our own respective dens,” he joked. Gurcharan had written an article in Asia Samachar on the challenges facing the Sikh leadership in Malaysia.
Participants were urged to take part in either one of the three groups to be set-up to deliberate on the three critical areas identified at the forum.
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