IPOH, Aug 12 (Bernama) -- Although the Sikh community in Malaysia is small -- 126,000 nationwide and around 28,000 in Perak -- their support and contributions to nation-building are very important, said Perak Menteri Besar Perak Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir. He said that despite being a minority community, the Sikhs had never allowed their small number to dampen their spirits to make it big in the country. "Since the arrival of the first batch of 100 Sikhs more than 100 years ago in Perak, the Sikhs have laid their lives, toiled in sweat, piqued their intelligence and flexed their muscles for this country. So much has been given by the Sikhs to Malaysia, their new motherland," he said at the Sikh Fellowship Dinner organised by the Union of Perak Sikh Organisations (Upso) at the Red Crescent Hall here last night. From their early involment in defence services, especially the police force and the army, they had evolved in their role and responsibilities, he said. On behalf the Barisan Nasional (BN) state government, he expressed appreciation of the Sikh community for enriching the heritage, culture and social demography and fabric of the country, and especially that of Perak, with their qualities and contributions. "The state government is aware that the Sikh community is not devoid of problems. Issues like hardcore poverty, crime, substance abuse, lack of opportunities in acquiring skills, rising figure of single mother, among others, faced by the Perak Sikhs need to be addressed properly and promptly," he said, giving an assurance of the state government's support and help. Upso chairman Dheer Singh said issues like education fund, women development, pending citizenship, single mother welfare, poverty and financial allocation for the community had been highlighted to get the attention of the relevant authorities on the plight of the Sikhs. "In the quest to bring drastic changes in our mindset, the Sikh community must first of all become united in a single entity. This entity must be a channel between the community and the state government. "Every Sikh organisation so often claims to be the sole representative of the Sikhs and have presented themselves as such to the government and other authorities and bodies. We are aware that it poses an extremely difficult position for the state government to identify the right body to represent the Sikh agenda," he added.