Malaysia Indian Blueprint pushes Sikhs back to pre-2008

Malaysian Prime Minister released the blueprint for Malaysian Indians in April 2017 with a touted allocation of RM1 billion. DARSHAN SINGH is far from impressed on its inclusiveness.

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Opinion  | Malaysia | 9 June 2017 | Asia Samachar |
Malayisan Prime Minister Mohd Najib Razak (third from left) at the launch of the Malaysian Indian Blueprint in Kuala Lumpur on 23 April 2017. He is flanked by Malaysia’s DPM Ahmad Zahidi (second from left) and MIC president Dr S Subramaniam – PHOTO / PMO MALAYSIA FACEBOOK

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.

SEE ALSO: Malaysia unveils 10-year blueprint for Malaysian Indians

SEE ALSO: Malaysian Indian Blueprint lacks inclusiveness

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.

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Sikhs and Punjabis were reputed for their self reliance and group which gives.
    Current attitudes snd policies of Sikhs and Sikh NGOs and leaderships may have resulted in some now being in the Begger’ or receiving category and thus depending on others.
    Sad dtate of affairs. There may even be cases where Sikh Professionals msy have abandoned parents and also killing of unborn or born frmale babies for which Punjab is reported to have the highest number of female deaths and do not forget the dowry^caste/status related killing under the guide of ‘honor’ even when it msy be the most dishonorable crime as even Guru Nanak Ji said ‘Why kill women when they sre the ones who give birth to kings/rulers’.

  2. The Malaysian Indian Blueprint is to all intents and purposes a “Malaysian Tamils Blueprint” as it focuses on improving the socio-economic status of the bottom 40% of the Indian community (a vast majority being Tamils) and upgrading Tamil education. The blueprint talks about improving Indian vernacular education but no mention is made at all about Punjabi education which badly needs greater government funding. For the record, there is no mention at all of the Sikhs in the blueprint. The words “Punjabis” and “Sikhism” are mentioned once in the blueprint. There is not even a single photograph focusing on the Sikhs or their institutions. What you have is a photograph on page 12 with a few Sikhs in the background together with hundreds of other Indians at a particular event. Ironically, the blueprint seeks greater inclusiveness of the Indian community (a minority within the Malaysian community) but is itself guilty of completely sidelining the Malaysian Sikh community. One must “walk the talk” to promote trust and a sense of belonging. One must also not forget that the Sikh community contributed significantly towards nation building, particularly in maintaining law and order which greatly facilitated Malaysia’s economic development. The Sikhs formed the backbone of the police and paramilitary forces of Malaya at least until 1914, and were numerically second only to the Malays before World War II. There are poor Sikh households that badly need support and assistance. For example, according to Sardar Dheer Singh (a prominent activist) there are more than 350 poor and hardcore poor Sikh families in the Kinta District, Perak alone. I trust the Special Unit for Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community (SEDIC) will do the needful for the Sikh community which is part of the “Malaysian Indian” community.

  3. Reading the MIB document, the Sikhs no longer have faith that the community will continue to be fairly represented as it is glaringly exclusive.

    I totally agree with the views of Sardar Darshan Singh Dhillon Ji. One of the missing factors could be the sense of commonality among the Sikhs who either refuse or fail to unite as one Sikh community but appear to be more interested in divisive and individualistic thinking.

    Among the factors the current aspect is the “Dasam Granth’ which appears not to go away but is raised periodically.

    Our Gurdwara Management Committee [‘GMC’] leaders appear to be more interested in limiting their scope of duties more to religious/langgar based activities though there is some who are providing education facilities [but visit to libraries in most Gurdwaras Sahib show the lack of appropriate reading materials or use of whatever is available with many of the books just gathering dust giving the impression that the libraries may be more there in name but rarely used by any one] and some financial assistance to some needy families.

    The Statements by most Chairman referring to progress proudly give importance to accumulation of surplus funds for which most ‘GMC’ proudly take credit and use it as a measure of the quality of their importance. The other main aspect given importance is generally to the construction of new buildings-renovations but with little importance to extension of facilities essential especially by the Disable/OKUs.

    Another major deficiency may be the lack of willingness of usage of surplus funds to assist other needy Gurdwaras Sahib and leaving the funds to earn 3-4% rate] interest income via FD in banks when loaning the funds to needy Gurdwaras Sahib may be paying between 6-8% interest rates. Another usage which most ‘MGC’ do not consider is the usage of funds to assist the community for education [study loans] or economical [business loans] reasons with the justifications that the by-laws do not permit or that the borrowers will abscond or not pay and the administrative costs may be high. The problems can be solved by just amending the by-laws but it is doubtful if there will be any delinquents and even if there are any cases of non-recovery
    of loans then the amount can be just converted to ‘donation’ and the account closed.

    Finally I am concerned and have been voicing my concern for past over two decades on the lack of TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF GURDWARAS SAHIB FUNDS WHICH ARE RARELY MADE PUBLIC with the justification is that the Financial Statements are accessible only to registered members though there is no by-law which prohibits in the Financial Statements being made public for all to see. Remember donations are sought for various purposes from every member of the SANGGAT and not limited to just the registered members. [Please refer to my article on TRUST FUNDS OF GURDWARAS – TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF FINANCIAL STATEMENTS published in Asia Samachar]. Sadly there appears to be little response from most ‘MGC’ and other leaders giving the impression that individual Sanggat members do not show much interest in suspected cases of possible Mismanagement-Fraud-Corruption-Embezzlement-Cronyism-Bribery-Kickback-Nepotism [though I have personally seen such cases during audit of accounts of some Gurdwaras Sahib].
    It may be perceived that when Gurdwaras Sahib with substantial surplus funds may generally have Groups who compete to take over control of the ‘MGC’ as this enable control of the funds. SGPC IS GOOD EXAMPLE WHICH IS CONTROLLED BY POLITICIANS’ NOMINEES and this may also be common in most other religions.

    NEED FOR CHANGE OF MINDSET OF THE SANGGAT AND ‘MGC’ MEMBERS. I am hopeful but doubtful.

    Gur Fateh

    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.

    I totally agree with the views of Sardar Darshan Singh Dhillon Ji. What is missing is the sense of commonality among the Sikhs who either refuse or fail to unite as one Sikh community but appear to be more interested in

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