| Opinion | Malaysia | 9 June 2017 | Asia Samachar |
By Darshan Singh Dhillon
Malaysia is a rich country inhabited by people from various racial and religious backgrounds. Over the past five decades, we have toiled together and achieved unparalleled success across socioeconomic and political fronts, making Malaysia exemplary to other proving Malaysia is Truly Asia. Undeniably, the most important asset which we have collectively and continuously enjoyed is our political stability. We have tolerated, short of celebrating, each other’s existence and living in harmony. To continue with this success story, it is incumbent that our leaders implement inclusive policy initiatives which will further strengthen this existing bond between communities, moving us away from mere tolerating but to celebrate each other. After all, inclusiveness is a vital component of any nation building strategy.
As for the Sikhs, we are a sub-ethnic minority segment of the larger Indian ethnic group, predominantly represented by the Tamils. It is well documented that the Sikhs were first brought into Malaysia to maintain law and order. Predominantly, serving in the army, police, commandants’ and wardens in the prisons in Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah, today the Sikhs prominently and effectively contribute towards nation building. They serve in various professional fields, not limited to serving as lawyers, doctors and the corporate sector but also as high ranking civil officers and in academia. Although small in numbers, the Sikhs have demonstrated great collaboration and resilience, effectively becoming an exemplary citizens of Malaysia.
Prior to 2008, Sikhs had stayed and operated from behind the scenes under a self-sustaining cultural, religious, social and political support system, almost neglected politically by the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC). When the political landscape post 2008 general elections altered, Prime Minister YAB Dato’ Seri Najib Razak in 2010 launched the 1Malaysia concept, aiming to unite us, bridging the gap of race and religion. While the strategy was commendable, its implementation was somewhat flawed. Nevertheless, recognition goes to the Prime Minister for his noble and honest intentions.
Post introduction of the 1Malaysia concept, the Prime Minister embarked on a direct outreach strategy to engage the diverse segment of the society and this for the first time involved participation of the Sikh community. The Sikhs, too, began receiving direct recognition, accorded with government financial aid in support of socio-religious and economic empowerment initiatives. We are now able to implements a myriad of initiatives in a more cohesive manner benefiting the wider Sikh community in Malaysia. A big thank you to the Prime Minister. The existence of such a support was limited in the past.
While the Sikhs congratulate the Prime Minister for all that he has done for the community, the Malaysia Indian Blueprint (MIB) is evidently regressive for the Sikhs, capable of pushing the Sikhs back to pre-2008 era. The MIB document is disappointingly not inclusive, demonstrating the questionable intentions of the very people who had developed it. From its introductory chapters itself it begins to capture a narrative unique to the Tamil community which is the dominant Indian community in Malaysia. From how the Tamils were brought in to Malaysia as indentured labourers to the displacement from estates caused by rapid urban development and related socio economic and political issues. There is little or no mention at all of the Sikhs or the other sub-ethnic Indian communities and their issues. It fails to capture the fact that issues and challenges faced by the Sikh community is different compared to the wider Tamil community.
Reading the MIB document, the Sikhs no longer have faith that the community will continue to be fairly represented as it is glaringly exclusive. Perhaps it is best that the government implement a direct approach mechanism to engage the Sikh community, preferably via various established community organisations, rather than being left to continuously craving for hand-outs.
Darshan Singh Dhillon is an avid writer on consumerism and also a member of the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) executive committee
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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