| Petaling Jaya, Malaysia | 3 Feb 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Sikh organisations willing to uplift the community’s poorer segment in Malaysia should tap a special funding made available by the Federal government.
The ins and outs of the funding – available through a special government agency called the Special Unit Program for Socioeconomic Development of Indian Community (SEDIC) – was shared at a symposium for Sikh non-government organisations (NGOs) in Petaling Jaya on 30 Jan 2016.
Some 20 Sikh non-government organisations (NGOs) and 12 gurdwara representatives attended the first of its kind forum organised by the Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisation (CMSO).
“Interested parties will have to work out strategic intervention programmes with not only clear objectives but also measurable outcomes that can be achieved at the end of project,” academician Prof. Dr. Saran Kaur Gill, one of the participants at the forum, tells Asia Samachar.
“It was a very informative session,” says former Malaysian Government audit officer Gursharan Singh, another participant.
Thus far, four Sikh NGOs have managed to tap less than RM1 million of the RM100 million via SEDIC, the special unit formed under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Formed in May 2014, SEDIC began its operation in September 2014. It aims to ‘ensure the funds channeled by the Government to Indian community is managed with efficiently, to reach the targeted groups, and through this, a holistic monitoring mechanism is created’.
The initiative is meant to improve the socioeconomic status of Indian community, especially the poor and hardcore poor, according to information available at its website.
At the symposium, SEDIC director Prof Dr NS Rajendran said the target groups are those left out of mainstream development, especially those falling in the high risk categories.
The scope has been reduced from 11 last year to four this year: Preschool, higher education accessibility, high risk youth and general.
Rajendran said it is for the NGO office bearers to comply with the prescribed rules and guidelines and requests be submitted in person so that the documents can be verified to be correct to be accepted for consideration.
“It is strongly recommended that applicants do their home work and comply with the guidelines before submitting any application for financial assistance. It is good to see that CMSO has agreed to assist in filling the required forms,” says Gursharan.
The speaker provided examples of programmes that can be run to uplift the Indian community, said a representative from Gurdwara Sahib Sungai Petani.
“It requires year round preparation and not just a one-off programme. I suppose this can be worked out with help of other organisations,” says Kashminder Kaur.
Prof Rabinderjeet Singh, who represented Penang-based Gurdwara Sahib Bayan Baru at the symposium, said they would tap into such finding at a later stage as they are now in the final lap of collecting funding for the gurdwara which is almost ready.
“Our immediate concern is the building fund. But it was a good exposure, good to know that the grants are avaialble,” he tells Asia Samachar in a phone conversation.
“We will look into various initiative in the future. We can help the single mothers, pre-schoolers and other segments of the community that are challenged financially. At Bayan Baru, we actually have one section dedicated for education,” he adds.
Rajendran noted that the CMSO symposium was the first programme allowing SEDIC to engage directly on behalf of a community.
“It is commendable for the Coalition to organise this – very good awareness raising. But now for the next level, there would need to be a workshop to help interested parties to work out their projects, fill in the forms accurately and relevantly,” says Prof Saran, a former deputy vice-chancellor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). She is currently Professor of Macro-Sociolinguistics (Language Policy and Planning) at UKM’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Prof Saran was representing UKM in partnership with Khalsa Diwan Malaysia (KDM) which is speaheading a Punjabi language revival initiative. KDM is one of the four Sikh NGOs which was had tapped SEDIC funding in the earlier round.
SEDIC funding is meant for human resource developmental projects and not for one off events where output cannot be measured. Closing date for new proposals is 4 March 2016.
CMSO has eight members: Guru Kalgidhar Diwan Malaysia, Guru Nanak Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Khalsa Diwan Malaysia (KDM), Malaysian Sikh Education Aid Fund (MSEAF), Malaysian Sikh Union (MSU), Malaysian Sikh Women’s Awareness Network Society (SWAN), Sant Sohan Singh Ji Melaka Memorial Society Malaysia and Sikh Welfare Society Malaysia.
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