PETALING JAYA: Malaysia must recapture the vision of the founding fathers, which is a united and prosperous nation with a shared destiny, said a historian.
In making this call, Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi said this year’s National Day theme – Sehati Sejiwa (One Heart, One Soul) – reflected the need for all Malaysians to work together to create and sustain a truly harmonious country where everyone was treated fairly.
“This country belongs to all of us and we all have an equal role and responsibility to play. Malaysians should not be judged by the colour of their skin but by their character and capabilities,” he said.
Every Malaysian child, he said, should be given the opportunity to develop his or her talents to their fullest potential.
“As we celebrate the National Day, it is also important for all Malaysians to reflect and appreciate the fact that our country today is the result of numerous sacrifices and contributions by the various ethnic groups,” said Dr Ranjit, adding that history books should reflect this.
Besides security and defence, the Sikh community, he said, had contributed greatly in helping to develop the economy, particularly the transportation sector.
“The Sikhs played a prominent role in road transport. They once virtually controlled the network of bullock cart operators and when motorised vehicles were introduced, held a significant share in lorry and bus services,” said Dr Ranjit, who is currently working on a book about the Sikhs in Malaysia.
“We need a thoroughly researched history based on both primary and secondary sources,” he added.
Dr Ranjit also pointed out several historical inaccuracies that needed to be corrected.
For example, he said while conducting research for his PhD in the National Archives in India, he found that in 1873, English explorer Capt Tristram Speedy had recruited only 95 discharged sepoys from India and not 110 as previously reported to help maintain peace in Larut, Perak.
Most of them, he said, were also Pathans, not Sikhs.
From the 1860s until the early 1870s, Larut was the scene of several wars between secret societies in Perak.
Dr Ranjit is appealing to Sikhs, especially those with family members involved in the transport and sports sectors, to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.