PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday announced RM3.84 million in allocations for 10 Sikh NGOs.
The caretaker prime minister, who made the announcement in conjunction with Vaisakhi celebrations at the Gurdwara Sahib in Lorong Utara, said: “We have helped the Sikh community, Majlis Gurdwara Malaysia, to acquire its own building in Sentul and repair gurdwara buildings all over Malaysia.”
He added that the government has approved an allocation of RM1.69 million for Majlis Gurdwara Malaysia this year.
“Hopefully, with the financial aid all gurdwara nationwide can be properly maintained,” he said amid cheers from the Sikhs present.
The BN chairman said he did not want to turn the event into a political talk but could not resist the temptation to “remind” them to support the BN government in the May 5 election.
“I hope the next Vaisakhi you continue to invite me. I also hope to attend the next Vaisakhi in my present job,” he said to chuckles from the crowd.
Najib’s arrival at the gurdwara was greeted with much fanfare and excited chatter, especially by children who were thrilled to meet Najib in person.
As Najib was seated at the dining table waiting for the ceremony to begin, one brave boy stood up and approached his table to aske for his autograph. The boy’s spontaneous action took everyone by surprise, including Najib’s bodyguards, and camera flashes went off as the little boy held out his pamphlet.
“This is the fifth time I have celebrated Vaisakhi with the Sikh community and I have fulfilled my promises to the Sikh community,” said Najib at the event. “... I am PM for all Malaysians,” he said.
This was followed by the aid presentation to NGOs that represent the Sikh community all over Malaysia.
Najib stressed that since 2008, the government has provided RM21 million in financial aid to the community.
As Najib was leaving, the crowd cheered and shouted “sat sri akal”, the Sikh greeting in Punjabi.
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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 15, 2013.