New Book: Sikh Pioneers of Perlis

The book is a result of the singular initiative undertaken by D.S. Ranjit Singh Darar to systematically examining the family histories of the Sikh pioneers of Perlis. Such history book, is a rarity in Malaysia.


By Asia Samachar | Malaysia |

Perlis may be the smallest state in the Malaysian federation, but the Sikhs in the state bordering Thailand surely punch above their weight when it comes to making history.

A new book, Sikh Pioneers of Perlis (1906 – 1957): A Community History, will attest to the fact.

The book is authored by Emeritus Professor Dr D.S. Ranjit Singh Darar, who is affiliated to the College of Law, Government and International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Kedah.

The book is a result of the singular initiative undertaken by the author to systematically examining the family histories of the Sikh pioneers of Perlis.

Such history book, is a rarity in Malaysia. The author has not only brought to life the trials, tribulations, and achievements of ordinary people, but has successfully constructed a cohesive and holistic community history of the Sikhs of Perlis.

The study discovered that Sikhs started coming to Perlis in 1906 and soon began serving in large numbers as police officers and jail warders in the state. Over the years they forged a viable community un their new land of adoption and laid the foundations for future generations of Sikhs in the state. The waxing and waning of the community’s fortunes from 1906 to 1957 ultimately inspired the author to create some new and interesting conceptual categories.

In this study, the term Sikh pioneers refers primarily to those who immigrated from India, and worked and settled in Perlis from 1906 to 1957. It, therefore, deals with the narrative of the first generation of Sikh immigrants and settlers in Perlis. The story of the second generation of the Sikh community in Perlis is beyond the scope of this work.

The year 1906 in chosen as the starting point because it was in this year that the first Sikh, Jagat Singh arrived in Perlis. The year 1957 symbolically marks the end of the study as immigration from India practically came to a stop due to the Malayan immigration laws of 1953, and as it was also the year of Malayan Independence.

There were two waves of Sikh immigration into Perlis, each with its own characteristics and features. The first wave was from 1906 to 1939 and the second from 1939 to 1957. For this reason, the volume is divided into two parts. Part one that deals with the activities and family histories of Sikhs who immigrated to Perlis from India from 1906 to 1939 has six chapters.

Part two narrates the story of the new Sikh settlers who came mainly from India, although two of them came from Penang and Kedah as well. This section has seven chapters.

Ranjit is also the author of of a book capturing the dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia over the Sipadan and Ligitan Islands. The 244-page book is entitled ‘The Indonesia-Malaysia Dispute Concerning Sovereignty over Sipadan and Ligitan Islands: Historical Antecedents and the International Court of Justice Judgment‘.

Now, something about the author. From 1973 to 2004, Ranjit served with the Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of Malaya in various positions, including as Tutor (1973–79), Lecturer (1979–90), Associate Professor (1991–97) and Professor (1998–2004). Since 2006, Ranjit has been attached to the School of International Studies (SoIS), Universiti Utara Malaysia.

His areas of specialisation include Malaysian History (Sabah and Sarawak); Political History of Southeast Asia, especially Brunei; International Relations; and Strategic Studies.

Among his major publications are: Brunei 1838–1983: The Problems of Political Survival (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984; reprinted, 1991) and The Making of Sabah 1865–1941: The Dynamics of Indigenous Society (Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 2000, 3rd ed., 2011, Government of Sabah).


Pride of Lions (Asia Samachar, 28 Oct 2017)

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