Political commentator Raja Petra Kamarudin’s poking fun of the turban of a Malaysian police officer has infuriated many Sikhs in Malaysia, with the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) warning that the remarks had the potential to create ‘hate and disrespect’ for the Sikh turban.
“These racially tinged remarks are likely to create hate and disrespect for the Sikh Turban as they have gone viral resulting in the Sikh community being greatly offended and has pressurised the MGC to take immediate steps to condemn this racial slurs,” MGC president Jagir Singh said in a statement emailed to the Asia Samachar.
This was in response to Raja Petra or RPK, a once popular and influential political commentator, making disparaging and personal remarks against Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department Director Amar Singh Ishar Singh in relation to an on-going investigations of the 1 MDB scandal, an issue that has gripped the nation for months now.
Among others, Raja Petra had said said that ‘Amar Singh Ishar Singh’s turban must be too tight that it is restricting the flow of blood to his brain’ and that ‘Amar Singh needs to remove his turban to clear his brain once in a while’.
Making direct reference to the two statements above, Jagir said they are clearly derogatory, racist and demeaning of the Sikh religion.
He added that the turban to a Sikh is an article of faith that represents honour, self-respect, courage, self-confidence, spirituality and piety. Further, the Sikh Turban reminds every Sikh of his duty and commitment to uphold truth and justice at all times.
“The 10th Guru of the Sikhs had also ordained that the Turban will also be a symbol that would make a Sikh stand out from the rest so that a person in need of help and support will seek out a Sikh. History is witness that Sikhs have fought and died valiantly to protect the dignity, honour and ideals represented by the Turban.
“Raja Petra’s racist and unwarranted attack has deeply hurt the feelings of the Sikhs. However, the MGC will act with restraint and uphold the rule of law. It will not go to the low level of Raja Petra whose uncalled for racist remarks should be condemned by all right thinking people,” he said in the statement.
MGC describes itself as the apex body of all the gurdwaras in Malaysia and the leading body that represents the Sikh religion in Malaysia.
In July, derogatory remarks against a turbaned attorney general of a US state was firmly dealt with.
Within hours, a conservative radio station in New Jersey suspended two of its most prominent talk-show hosts after the pair repeatedly referred to state Attorney General Gurbir Singh Grewal, a practicing Sikh, as “Turban Man.” In that incident, one of the hosts said: “Listen, and if that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and maybe I’ll remember your name.”
In an immediate response, Govenor Phil Murphy, who nominated Grewal to his position and has been a guest of the station numerous times, released a statement calling the comments “abhorrent and xenophobic” .
“”Hate speech has no place in New Jersey, and it does not belong on our airwaves,” he said. “Station management must now hold the hosts accountable for these intolerant and racist comments.”
In an incident in Singapore earlier this month, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) had expressed ‘regrets’ on comments made by its national team head coach Fandi Ahmad in response to a question from a Sikh journalist Dilenjit Singh.
In a statement, FAS said it regretted that Fandi’s comments during the pre-match press conference on 6 Sept 2018 for the match between Singapore and Mauritius, had upset members of the Sikh community.
“Fandi and the FAS have contacted Mr. Dilenjit Singh (The New Paper reporter) and the Sikh Advisory Board (SAB) to explain, apologise and clarify the matter. Mr. Singh gracefully accepted our explanation and apology. Our discussion with the Sikh Advisory Board has also revealed that the comments could be hurtful to the Sikh community even though they were not made with any malicious intent,” it said in the statement.
Don’t ridicule the turban, Malaysian Sikh top cop tells RPK (Asia Samachar, 29 Sept 2018)
FAS ‘regrets’ turban remark by football coach Fandi Ahmad (Asia Samachar, 13 Sept 2018)
Sikh veterans join Merdeka Day Shining Turban campaign (Asia Samachar, 27 Aug 2018)
US radio hosts suspended after calling Sikh attorney general ‘Turban Man’ – Report (Asia Samachar, 27 July 2018)
Aussie Sikh boy wins right to wear turban at Christian school (Asia Samachar, 19 Sept 2017)
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