Drug abuse, single mothers - issues faced by Sikhs in Malaysia

June 1st, 2009 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, June 1 (IANS) Incidence of relative poverty, drug abuse among youth and single mothers in the Sikh community settled in Malaysia’s Perak state have surprised the authorities who have promised to help.
Chinese affairs adviser to Perak’s menteri besar (chief minister) Chang Ko Youn said attention to the community’s problems was “long overdue”.

“The general impression Malaysians have is that the Sikhs are successful people who don’t have serious socio-economic, education and youth problems.

“Today’s (Sunday) briefing has certainly been an eye-opener,” said Chang, adding: “And I have to say that impression does not hold water and must be corrected.” Representatives of nine Sikh organisations presented their case through an umbrella body called the Union of Perak Sikh Organisations (UPSO).

“The areas where assistance will be extended include substance abuse problems among youth, welfare aid to poor families and single mothers, support for Punjabi language education, sports development and land allocation for gurdwara sahib,” The News Straits Times reported.

Over 28,000 Sikhs are settled in Perak state, while Malaysia has an estimated population of 100,000 Sikhs who came here during British rule.

The community has produced many leaders in politics, business, education and entertainment.

Chang assured the Sikh leaders that he will arrange for them to meet chief minister Zambry Abdul Kadir so that they can brief him personally.

UPSO chairman Dheer Singh said the Sikhs have been suffering in silence for a long time because the community lacked political representation in the Barisan Nasional government.

“For over 50 years, Sikhs have been neglected by those in power. I hope things will move in a positive direction now. The perception that Sikhs don’t need help must be discarded. We need attention and help, and urgently at that,” Dheer Singh was quoted as saying.

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