We are all Malaysians

  • Letters
  • Friday, 29 Oct 2004

I AM writing in partial support of Bulbir Singh’s claim that “Sikhs are not Indians”, although I would say “Sikhs are not just Indians”.  

Although a Sikh, I consider myself a Malaysian rather than an Indian. Likewise, there are Sikhs who are Americans, Canadians, British, Indians, Pakistanis, and so forth. 

In Malaysia, we are still categorised by race in filling up forms and documentations. The term “Indian” refers to people who have their roots in India or who have an Indian citizenship, but the Sikhs have a unique identity.  

This is because Punjab, where the Sikhs originated from, was split into two different territories during India’s partition in 1947. 

The birthplace of Sikhism (West Punjab), which was formerly in India before the partition, is today part of Pakistan. 

Therefore, going by identity, Sikhs today should be not be known as Indians but “Punjabis”, which will better represent Sikhs from East Punjab (India) or West Punjab (Pakistan). 

For official documents and applications, the word “Punjabi”, should be used for the “race” category instead of Sikh, as Sikh is a religion and not a race.  

The word “Punjabi” will not only better represent the Sikhs but also the Muslims, Hindus or Christians, who have their origins from both sides of the Punjab, be it from India or Pakistan. 

In Malaysia where different communities live, the best solution is to call ourselves “Malaysians”. 

While waiting for that to happen, Malaysians will continue to be categorised as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Punjabis and so forth. 




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