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Malaysia The First Sikh Arrivals In Malaysia

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Chaan Pardesi, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. Chaan Pardesi

    Chaan Pardesi United Kingdom
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    Writer SPNer Thinker

    Oct 5, 2008
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    A letter sent to the THE STAR in Malaysia

    Dear Sirs,

    I hope you will allow me to add and put on record certain important
    factual notes of the Malaysian Sikh police history, as mentioned in
    the article -Sikhs spurred by spirit to serve - by Dr Sarjit Singh
    Gill of Universiti Putra Malaysia that appeared in your newspaper on
    the 31 of August, 2012.

    He says "The first Sikhs who arrived in the Malay states in the 19th
    century were largely recruited by British officers who had worked in
    India".I am afraid to say is a little short of important historical facts.

    The FIRST Sikhs that arrived in Malaya/Singapore were not the Police or
    lawmen, but Sikh political prisoners,who had been banished first to the
    Andaman Islands [known as Kaale Pani, in Punjabi ] and later to
    Singapore and Malaya.

    Among the hundereds that were sent here,Bhai Maharaj Singh and a few
    other Sikhs are a good example of those early political Sikh prisoners
    that arrived here shortly after the final war between the Sikh Empire
    and the British.The Second Anglo-Sikh War took place in 1848 and
    1849.By the end of that year Bhai Maharaj Singh, who had instigated a
    rebellion against the British and many of his colleagues were arrested
    and initially sent to Andaman Islands.In 1850, it was felt that Andaman
    Islands were too close to home for them to keep stirring the pangs of
    independance in the Punjab.

    They were then sent to Singapore.Bhai Maharaj Singh's Cremation
    Memorial lies in a Gurduara in Singapore to this day.Records tell us
    that some of the lesser important prisoners and Bhai Maharaj Singh,
    were also kept at Fort Cornwalis in Penang for some period.
    By 1850s Sikh police was already deploye in China and Hong Kong before
    they were deployed in Malaya.Sikh police recruited from the Malwa
    region of Punjab and the Sikh states, east of the River Satluj, which
    was under East India Company rule,as result of the Treaty of Amritsar
    helped put the Boxer rebellion down in China around 1851-2. These Sikh
    police officers must/would have also passed through Penang and
    Singapore on their way to Hong Kong and China.

    In fact, it should not be surprising that a small number of Sikhs in
    may have already been present in Malaya and Singapore when the British
    founded Singapore in 1819.The British Sikhs[ from the area of Punjab
    that was already under the East India Company, Malwa and Sikh States ]
    were already in the employ of the British as soldiers and Police.
    This is further supported by the fact that the first Sikhs
    taken to Australia were in 1837 by a planter Mr John Mackay.They too
    must have stopped in Penang and Singapore en route to Australia.
    The first official Sikh unit in Malaya was raised with Capt Speedy's
    men-100 of them and mostly Sikh, in 1874.The Perak Resident's Guards
    were formed in 1874.The Larut Police was formed between 1874-1876.

    Later in 1877 came the Perak Armed Police as said in the
    article.Although much valuable information and record is held within
    the National Archives in Malaysia, very little or practically nil was
    collated by the Sikhs themselves, sadly.The Sikh policemen did not
    generally record their experiences and adventure or about their
    profession in Malaya in diaries, journals, or newspapers.
    Even the Police Gurduaras have very little information and far more
    less is found in the local Gurduaras built by the civilian Sikhs.As
    there are no personal records or diaries. much valuable information
    has been lost as the early Sikh policemen demised.

    Many efforts are being made to collate all the Sikh police history into
    one volume, this work is often hindered by selfish and possesive people
    , who have their own vested interests to grind.Others have refused
    point blank to asssist at all, often due to jealousy, but I must say
    much of it has been collated and is being published by scholars from
    abroad,and by Malaysians who are proud of their Sikh Malaysian
    heritage,history and community.

    Why were the Sikhs selected over other Indians, is a question that
    puzzles many.e many reasons , but briefly the Sikhs were considered the
    prime of the martial races, and had much history to prove that point
    beyond any doubt.This catogarization was then extended into the Malayan
    context since the British recognised that the Chinese and Malays were
    "unsuitable"in constitution and character to fulfil the security vacuum
    in Malaya.The British had already experienced the effectiveness of
    Sikh police in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Burma,etc Thus began the
    migration of Sikhs to Malaya on a larger scale than before.
    Having fought two wars with the Sikhs,and almost looosing the
    second,if not for the treachery of two Dogra generals in the Sikh
    army,the British respected the Sikhs and their soldiery traits and
    were assured the loyalty of the Sikh police over the rest of her
    colonial subjects, after the 1857 mutiny in India.The Sikh police had
    also been at work in East Africa,West Africa, Burma and Fiji Islands,
    since 1850.

    Lastly, the English officers who brought these Sikh police to Malaysia
    were not all those who had worked with Sikhs in India, but many of the
    officers were those who had seen Sikh Police work in action in Shanghai
    and Hong Kong etc ,where they had experienced the Sikhs first hand in
    policing successfully and were very much impressed by their quality of
    work ethics.

    Today,in Malaysia, there is no reason why a special Sikh Contigent of
    up to 1000 men could not be raised from the local Sikh population and
    the numbers kept at that number so to ensure the continuance of the
    historical Sikh police in Malaysia, and the upkeep of the Police Sikh
    Gurduaras, which are part of the Malaysian buildings heritage, as well
    as to ensure the carry on of the original spirit to serve the nation,
    Malaysia and Malaysian communities.

    Yours Sincerely, A Very Much Malaysian,
    Gurcharan Singh Kulim
    Chigwell, United Kingdom
    #1 Chaan Pardesi, Sep 10, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
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