Letter: Keep promises made to minorities, translate them into action

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By Santokh Singh Randhawa | Malaysia | Letter |

WE all know how it goes during the campaigning period: every candidate and political party is promising the moon and the stars if they win.

I appreciate the letter by the Penang Hindu Association – published in The Star on Nov 8 – putting forward the grievances faced by minority ethnic groups in Malaysia . There was also a letter published on May 14 discussing minority languages (“Plight of minority languages’, The Star, May 14).

There are many other minorities, like Punjabis, Sindhis, Brahmins, Telegus, Malayalees, Ibans, and a host of others. Malaysia is a multiracial, multireligious and multicultural country.

While the major races are always well represented in Parliament by their MPs, minorities are usually left out. Now, I’m not saying minorities are totally ignored, but our grievances tend to be tackled on an ad hoc basis.

Our needs are basic and elementary, like preserving our language, citizenship, equal opportunities, and recognition.

The minorities have, in our own way, also contributed immensely towards nation-building, such as in areas like the construction of roads and railways, the rubber industry, and security. We have also sacrificed and given our lives in defence of this nation during WWII and the Emergency.

Have any federal governments considered setting up a ministry for minorities? Such a ministry could have one or two representatives from each minority group to bring up our issues and needs with the government of the day.

Sadly, some political parties play up racial and religious issues to garner votes, leaving disharmony, animosity, distrust and disunity in their wake.

Recently, Perak’s Sultan Nazrin Shah wisely reminded the leaders of our nation – a number of times – not to harp on issues of race and religion that could create animosity and disunity among races. The Sultan wants leaders to create an atmosphere of friendliness, harmony and unity. Wise words!.

Coming back to the promises, I hope the parties don’t forget all these promises they are making right now and make us minorities wait for another five years. We want the promises to be translated into action and our needs seriously looked into.

Good luck to all, and may the best candidates and parties win!

SANTOKH S. RANDHAWA
President, Khalsa Diwan Malaysia

Khalsa Diwan Malaysia is one of the oldest Indian NGOs in the country, and was entrusted by other Sikh NGOs and the Sikh community to promote and develop the use of the Punjabi language.

RELATED STORY:

Plight of minority language in Malaysia. Why students not allowed to sit for Punjabi paper? (Asia Samachar, 16 May 2022)

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