Malaysian Sikh veterans are poorly paid

“This is a little known fact,” Malaysian Armed Forces Sikh Veterans Association (MAFSVA) MAFSVA president Major (Rtd) Baldev Singh told its first Heritage Night and Charity Dinner

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Major Harwan Singh (right), former MAFSVA treasurer and present advisor, handing over a honorary membership of MAFSVA to Gobind. Watching is Major (Rtd) Baldev. – Photo: Supplied
By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |

Most Malaysian armed forces veterans, including Sikh veterans, are among the most poorly paid when it comes to pension.

“This is a little known fact,” Malaysian Armed Forces Sikh Veterans Association (MAFSVA) MAFSVA president Major (Rtd) Baldev Singh told the gathering at its first Heritage Night and Charity Dinner last month.

This month, he said MAFSVA will prepare a brief on the anomalies with suggestions to rectify its scale in accordance with the relevant law.

“Among others, MAFSVA has organised Pingat Jasa Malaysia Awards (PJM) awards for its members, for which the government is considering an annual/monthly allowance,” he said.

Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo, who was the chief guest at the dinner on 19 May 2019 in Subang Jaya, said he shared the concerns of MAFSVA pertaining to the welfare and well-being of the armed forces veterans.

Gobind said the Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu had pledged to look into the various issues faced by the veterans.

“We must always be reminded of the sacrifices of our most-brave and it should be used to educate and inspire confidence in our younger generation, many of whom know very little of our country’s history, in general, let alone specific incident of war, the experiences of our veterans, including the Battle of Kampar,” he said.

When asked to elaborate on the matter, Baldev told Asia Samachar: “Very few officers and soldiers qualify for a full pension due to the nature of the terms of service, completely different from the civil service.”

Among the invited guests were Kampar MP Thomas Su Keong Siong, Malaysia Army Training Academy (LATEDA) commander Col Inderjit Singh. Also present were Col Anirudh Chauhan and Capt Roger Ian Ward, defence advisors at the high commissions of India and New Zealand, respectively.

The event carried the theme “Service and Sacrifice of Malaysian Sikhs in the Police and Military since 1873”.

The funds raised will go towards the preservation heritage and history connected to Sikhs, with the preservation of the ‘Green Ridge’ (WW2 battle site in Kampar, Perak).

The funds will also be used for the welfare needs of the veterans and to undertake veteran’s community projects.

BATTLE OF KAMPAR

Baldev noted that MAFSVA was formed by default. The Adhoc Battle of Kampar (BOK) committee, which was urging the Government to preserve the Green Ridge, realised it had to be a registered body to pursue its objective.

“Maj (Rtd) Bhagwan Singh proposed a veteran association be formed. Thus, MAFSVA was born on 23rd May 2016. Our signature project is to ensure a War Memorial be built in the memory of our brave fallen heroes of BOK,” he said.

BOK, the longest Battle in Malaya, was fought 76 years ago by the British Army comprising Indian troops against the Japanese imperial army in 1941.

“Surprisingly, the British overlooked to build any monument for these brave soldiers. However, the Government of India has pledged to build a world class war memorial and gallery at The Green Ridge.

“We have had several coordinating meetings with The High Commission of India, Perak State Government, Ministry of Tourism & Culture and the Foreign Ministry on the progress of The War Memorial,” he said.

Upon completion, he said The War Memorial & Gallery will be a historic monument and an international tourist attraction.

The then federal Minister of Tourism and Culture Nazri Aziz visited the Green Ridge Site on 17 March 2017 and declared it as a heritage site. The visit was facilitated by Daljit Singh Dhaliwal, a former senator and president of Malaysian Punjabi Chambers of Commerce and Industries.

In January 2019, the BOK Committee had a meeting with Thomas Su in Kampar, who had later raised the matter in the Dewan Rakyat, the lower chamber of the Malaysian parliament, in March 2019.

LAST RITES, THANKSGIVING

In his speech, Baldev also said that MAFSVA also undertakes the last rites for the veterans by drapping the national flag over them and playing The Last Post.

“Veterans present at the ceremony give him a Last Salute. The National flag is then professionaly folded and handed to the next of kin as an appreciation for his services to the Nation,” he said.

MAFSVA also organises thanksgiving prayers with annual jhodmela (Sikh prayer) in all states, with the most significant one at Gurdwara Sahib Kampar in January in remembrance of BOK heroes.

In 2020, MAFSVA plans to turn it into a national affair to create awareness and to send a strong message to the Perak state government to speed up the BOK Project.

“We also have joint Jhodmelas with our Police Brothers during Warriors Day. We have a cordial working relationship with our police brothers,” he said, noting the presence of DSP Balwan Singh.

MAFSVA operates from a leased bungalow in Petaling Jaya. The headquarter, called Fauji Barracks, comprises of an office, a meeting room, a dining hall and a mini bar for fellowship and to hold small functions.

“It needs major renovations. YB and all guests are cordially invited to patronise our Fauji Barracks,” he said.

RECOGNISING VETERANS

In his speech, Baldev also highlighted the contributions of the association’s executive committee.

Major (Rtd) Suaran Singh: Founder honorary secretary. He prepared all SOPs and minuted all exco meetings and AGMs, organised all MAFSVA activities for the first two years.

Major (Rtd) Harwan Singh: Founder honorary treasurer and current advisor.

Major (Rtd) Bhagwan Singh: Founder deputy president and chairman. Also chairman of the Battle of Kampar Committee and the brainchild behind it. He’s the current VP Army.

Cmdr (Rtd) Avatar Singh: Founder and present VP Navy. The most senior Navy veteran. He is also the Perak Branch chairman and a member of BOK Committee.

Lt Col (Rtd) Sirender Singh: VP Air Force and former Selangor Branch chairman.

Fauji (Rtd) Avtar Singh: Assistant Honorary Secretary for the first term and the present honorary  secretary.

Capt (Rtd) Pretam Singh: Honorary Treasurer.

Fauji (Rtd) Arjan Singh: Assistant Honorary Treasurer for 1st term.

Lt (N) (Rtd) Sarjeet Kaur: Only lady veteran in present exco. She is the current Honorary Secretary. A former national archer.

Fauji (Rtd) Dial Singh: Exco member for 2 terms.

Fauji (Rtd)  Jesvant Singh: Exco member. The association’s very own McGyver who is at the Fauji Barracks every Wednesday.

Lt Col (Rtd) Dr Amar Singh: Medical adviser and exco.

Fauji (Rtd) Jagjit Singh: Exco member as well as committee member of FB.

Lt Col (Rtd) Baldev Singh Johl: Auditor for 2 terms and President of Fauji Barracks (PMC).

Major (Rtd) Harjit Singh: Deputy President and organising chairman of the fund raising event.

State Branches chairmen:

Capt (Rtd) Harminder Singh – Chairman Negri Sembilan

Fauji (Rtd)  Charanjt Singh – Chairman Selangor & Wilayah

Cmdr (Rtd) Avatar Singh – Chairman Perak

Capt (Rtd) Dr Kulwaran Singh – Chairman Penang

 

RELATED STORY:

Malaysian Sikh army men come together in prayer (Asia Samachar, 12 March 2019)

Battle of Kampar site reverberates with footsteps of university students (Asia Samachar, 31 March 2018)

 

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

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