| Opinion | Ipoh, Malaysia | 3 June 2017 | Asia Samachar |
Malaysia is a rich multicultural country inhabited by people from various racial and religious backgrounds. We Sikhs are typically a sub-ethnic minority segment of the larger Indian group, predominantly represented by the Tamils. It would not be exaggerating to say that Sikhs are close to becoming an independent ethnic minority group.
For many years the Sikhs stayed and operated from behind the scenes, legitimising our socio-political existence in Malaysia, almost neglected by the very party which was entrusted to represent our interest.
When the political landscape post 2008 general elections altered, our honourable Prime Minister launched the 1Malaysia slogan to unite us, bridging the gap of race and religion. While the strategy was commendable, its implementation was somewhat flawed, but nevertheless, credit goes to the Prime Minister for his noble intention. The direct outreach initiatives for the first time involved participation of the Sikh community, following which Sikhs too began to receive direct recognition, accorded with government financial aid in support of socio-religious empowerment initiatives. The Sikh community to-date has received funding in the tune of millions from the federal and state governments, undeniably, imperative for maintenance purposes of our Gurdwaras. A big thank you to the PM. Such a support system was clearly non-existent in the past.
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It is incumbent that we continue to demonstrate a united front which is to be reckoned with, whether socially or politically, to continuously enjoying such assistance and support. We must organise more large-scaled community events, ensuring the participation of those who walk in the corridors of power. While “Dharmik Semagams” elevates us spirituality, cultural events like Vaisakhi open houses will help us stay afloat politically.
It is very sad that Malaysian Sikhs, once exalted for their unity, are now featured in the international hall of shame for demonstrating disunity which threatens to divide us. For the first time we have allowed the police to step into our Gurdwaras to stop our dispute. We slug mud at each other using social media, exposing our domestic affairs to the masses. The predominant cause of conflict being differences in religious opinion. Fuelling the dispute are a handful of Gurdwara Parbandaks (management committee members) who play politics using the sacred Gurdwara platform.
The Dasam Granth (DG), as opposed to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, is deemed to be a controversial compilation. If there are proponents of this controversial text, there are also equal number, if not more, of its opponents. Of late, dispute in any Gurdwara is highly likely to be caused by this ongoing saga, causing severe friction and damage within our beloved community.
Knowing this fact, why pursue a matter which is capable of destroying our unity, one which has even propagated violence in the Holy Darbar Sahib? Why cannot Gurdwaras be left to give sole authority to our eternal Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji? Why cannot we simply abide by established principles of the Sikh Rahat Maryada (SRM), aimed at standardising our religious practices? Does propagating the DG make one a better Sikh than another?
It was unfortunate that the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) had to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to call for unity. While the results were obvious, to me, my beloved community lost on that day as we successfully alienated our brothers and sisters from the other side of the divide. But, was it necessary? Yes, for the sake of our unity and future stability of the Panth!
I aim to uphold harmony and this objective bears utmost precedence, even if my words and viewpoints are distorted by a handful. My humble request to all is for us to collectively work towards progressing Sikhi. Clearly, if dispute of belief is dangerous, it is even worse when it involves religion. Let us not allow our affiliation to tear us apart. Today we stand at a front where Sikhi is being diluted, and such issues among others, will only turn away young Sikhs as greater confusion unfolds. It’s now, more than ever before that we demonstrate unity!
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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