KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — Sikh armed forces veterans have formed an association to look after their interests.
Major (Rtd) Baldev Singh, who had served the army for 18 years, was elected president of the Malaysian Armed Forces Sikh Veterans Association (MAFSVA) at its inaugural annual general meeting at the Selangor Sikh Union Kelab Aman here yesterday.
He told Malay Mail that MAFSVA was long overdue as there was no existing association that catered specifically to the needs of Sikh armed forces personnel.
“The Sikhs are a minority group of another minority group in the country. We are a very small community and we have to take care of each other.
“Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to help our fellow comrades,” he said, adding he hoped MAFSVA will be a model Sikh association.
Its assistant secretary Major (Rtd) Tara Singh, who served in the Royal Ranger Regiment for 28 years, said the association allowed the veterans to liaise with the Defence Ministry on matters pertaining to their welfare.
“With the establishment of the association, we can now make a representation to the Malaysian Armed Forces Department of Veterans Affairs.
“By ensuring the wellbeing of our fellow comrades, we can also contribute to the country, in the context of veterans development,” he said.
Tara said MAFSVA will also work on a few projects that are close to their hearts which include fighting for Green Ridge, a World War II battle site in Kampar, Perak to be recognised and preserved as a war memorial.
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had consented to provide the funds to build a monument in Kampar.
“We will liaise closely with His Royal Highness the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah and Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir to make this a reality,” he said.
Association vice-president Major (Rtd) Harjit Singh Rendawa, who was one the pioneers of Ops Tugu in 1980, said the veterans were planning to hold motivational programmes to inspire younger Sikhs to join the armed forces.
“The number of Sikhs joining the armed forces is really small. We are hoping to conduct several programmes to motivate our younger folks to also serve the nation. It could be talks or even consultations,” he said.
MAFSVA was officially registered with the Defence Ministry on May 16 and now has over 100 members.
The association hoped to have 400 members by December.