KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — The Sikh community has contributed to the development of Malaysia, from the modest beginnings of their forebears in the security forces to many other fields.
The Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah said although the Sikh community has only ever been a tiny proportion of the population – accounting for around two and a half percent today – they have always stood out and made their presence known.
He said the Sikh reputation for courage, loyalty, and discipline led to their dominance of the early police and paramilitary forces that were established in Perak.
According to Sultan Nazrin, the very first Perak Armed Police, set up in 1874, was even renamed the 1st Battalion Perak Sikhs, in the 1880s as these early Guards helped to ensure safety on the treacherous mountain passes between the tin mining areas and the coastal settlements, which were previously plagued by highway bandits.
“While Sikhs were also predominant in the police forces set up in other states, they continued to play a special role in Perak, as the mounted Royal Bodyguard for my great great grandfather, Sultan Idris Murshidal Azzam Shah. The establishment of this bodyguard reflects the remarkable level of trust that the Sikhs inspired, due to their unfaltering devotion to duty,” the Ruler said.
Sultan Nazrin said this in his address at the launching of a book titled ‘Sikhs in Malaysia: A Comprehensive History’ written by Ranjit Singh Malhi here, today.
He said Sikhs had long moved beyond the security sector, in which they originally excelled, bringing their talents and skills to many other fields.
The Ruler said Sikhs could be found at the top of their game in all the professions, such as lawyers, judges, accountants, academics as well as in the fields of sports, culture and the arts.
Sultan Nazrin also mentioned several outstanding individuals, including Chief Justice of Malaya in the 1970s, Tan Sri Swaran Singh Gill; Dr Harban Kaur Virik, the country’s first female paediatrician; Datuk Santok Singh (footballer); Harjit Singh Hullon (broadcaster); and DJ Dave (singer).
He said five characteristics – adaptability; patriotism; commitment to education; hard work and thriftiness; and respect for tradition – had together empowered the Sikhs to conquer the highest heights in modern Malaysia.
“From the modest beginnings of their forebears in the security forces of the nascent British colony, they have become highly-valued citizens of Malaysia, a numerically small but vitally important component of our rich multi-cultural society,” he added.