Today, the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur paid tribute to the Sikh community for their immense contributions during the two World Wars.
Major (Rtd) Datuk Ranjit Singh Ramday, 60, who was involved in battling the communist insurgence in the 1970s, said he was “proud” of the recognition given to the Sikh soldiers here today.
Ranjit, who joined the Malaysian Armed Forces in 1974, said he was part of the effort to fight the communist threat in Perak, Pahang and Kedah.
“I was the Panglima of the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department and once the general officer of another division in Kuching.
“I retired in June this year,” he said after the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur Remembrance Service at Tugu Negara here today.
Ranjit said one of his lasting memories was the Sulu incursion in Lahad Datu, Sabah, where he was the overall Armed Forces commander there.
He said it was appropriate for the honour presented to the Sikhs today, especially serving in the British Army.
“The Sikhs were known as the ‘Sword Arm’ of the British Empire.
“When Punjab was annexed by the British, they sought the Sikh military to serve them and the Sikhs had served them faithfully all these years until the Independence.
“Despite only forming 2% of the Indian population, the Sikhs contributed the most in the Armed Forces.”
He said the Sikh regiment today remained one of the most decorated regiment in the Indian Army.
Col (Rtd) Datuk Harbans Singh, 75, joined the army in 1960 and, as a young officer, served in the Artillery Corps before he commanded an artillery regiment for four years.
He then served during the confrontation with Indonesia (1963-1966) where he supported the combat forces when they were deployed to the front line with weapons.
“I served 30 years in the Armed Forces and then took early retirement.
“I am very happy, glad and proud that there is some recognition to the Sikhs who served in the army,” he said.
He said recognition was important.
“Recognition is important to spur on future generations to play this role, where your life is on the line to serve your country.
“Without it, it’s hard to get the future generations to understand why they should be part of the armed forces and protect the country that they love.
“The youngsters have to feel patriotic to the country to feel it is a worth cause. The tribute will help keep the spirit alive.”
Major Amarjit Singh, 57, who was part of the Royal Ranger Regiment and spent 27 years in the Malaysian Armed Forces, said the tribute was a “great effort to remember the sacrifice of the Army irrespective of race”.
He said it was important to remember those who fell defending the country, adding that it was invaluable.
The Remembrance Day service was attended by foreign ambassadors, High Commissioners and Defence Advisers from 11 different countries.
The event ended with the traditional laying of 39 wreaths at the base of the Cenotaph.