Ipoh, June 23 (ANI): Malaysian Sikh community leaders have said that one in every 20 Sikhs living in Perak is a hardcore poor.
The Sikh community's hardcore poor numbers around 1,500, constituting about 400 families, or five per cent of the total 28,000 Sikhs in the state.
This information so astounded Menteri Besar Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir that he has decided to include the eradication of hardcore poverty among Sikhs in his administration's action plan.
After meeting the Union of Perak Sikh Organisations (Upso), he said the data on hardcore poor within the community took him by surprise.
"Like many others, my worldview of the Sikhs has been that they don't have severe socio-economic problems like other communities. But, after listening to Sikh leaders talking about the level of hardcore poverty in the community, I must say that it did shock me," the New Straits Times quoted him, as saying.
He said the state government viewed the issue of hardcore poverty seriously.
Leaders of Upso, an umbrella body representing seven Sikh non-governmental organisations, met Zambry to highlight various problems faced by the state's Sikh community.
The group also highlighted the need for state government intervention to help with issues involving single mothers, language and education.
Zambry also pledged to look into land problems faced by several gurdwaras in Malaysia.
Zambry, who spent almost two hours listening to Sikh leaders, also agreed to the setting up of a Sikh advisory body, so that it would be easier for the community to bring up its problems directly with the state government.
"I encourage the Sikhs in the state to unite behind one organisation or body so that it will be easy to deal with the state government and vice-versa. I think the board proposal is good one and ought to be studied and implemented."
In the meantime, he said Upso could act as an intermediary between the community and the state government. (ANI)