| Ipoh, Malaysia | 28 Feb 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Police turned up at an Ipoh gurdwara, probably the first such incident in recent decades, during an annual general meeting (AGM) today that saw dozens of members turned away due to lapsed membership.
“We had called the police to ensure safety of the Sanggat. Some members had become physical, some were rowdy before the AGM began,” Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Ipoh (WGSI) committee president Amarjit Singh Gill told Asia Samachar.
It is understood some members had become upset by what was deemed as an arbitrary ruling by the committee on their membership status.
“Some members may have felt this was not a fair deal. Their membership had been struck off without any proper and prior advisory,” one member who attended the meeting told Asia Samachar.
SEE ALSO: Roles and functions of a gurdwara
This year is a non-election year at WGSI. Amarjit had won the president post unopposed at last year’s AGM. The position would be up for grabs at the AGM 2017.
WGSI constitution allows a president to serve two consecutive temrs of two-years each. Prior to him, Bhajan Singh had served as WGSI committee president for four years.
Policemen were seen at the compound of the WGSI, one of the bigger gurdwaras in the state capital of Perak, this morning (28 Feb 2016), prompting messages on the local social media circuit.
“Calling police to the gurdwara, shame on you,” read one comment in a Sikh chat group.
It is understood that the WGSI committee had decided that members who had failed to update their chandaa, or membership fees, would not be allowed to take part in the meeting.
Members present at the AGM were told that the committee was merely adhering to the gurdwara’s constitution, which states a membership will lapse if fees were not paid for two consecutive years.
“They are being technical. In the past, we have always been allowed to update our chandaa and then proceed to the AGM, even during voting years,” another member, who was also present at today’s AGM, told Asia Samachar. “In that sense, I would say the committee has gone over board.”
It is understood that some 80 members were struck off due to non-payment of membership fees.
One of the members not allowed to join the AGM was Dr Ranjoth Singh, an Ipoh-based obstetricians and gynaecologists, who had served in senior positions in the gurdwara commitee for more than two decades, including as the deputy president during Bhajan’s presidency.
“I was not allowed to speak,” he told Asia Samachar, but declined to comment further. It is understood that his membership was paid-up till 2014.
Another WGSI member, who was also not allowed to join the AGM, felt that ‘justice was not done’, especially those who had served the gurdwara for many years.
“We did not receive any notice that our membership would be struck off for non-payment. I didn’t even receive any notice on the AGM, I heard about it from friends,” he said.
Some members have voiced their unhappiness with certain decisions of the present committee, including the handling of the recent year-end kirtan programme which saw the Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) Perak taking it the annual programme called Nava Saal Guru De Naal to Gurdwara Sahib Railway Road instead.
SEE ALSO: Ipoh gurdwara gets RM200k for renovation
However, in the short span of his presidency, Amarjit has managed to secure government funding totalling RM400,000 for the gurdwara.
The first grant of RM200,000 was received from the Federal Government in June 2015. It was meant to undertake much needed renovation, especially for the darbar sahib (main prayer hall), which was estimated to cost RM400,000.
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Ipoh gurdwara AGM: Another volunteer held, lorry driver vows to ‘get back their membership’ (Asia Samachar, 2 March 2016)
Ipoh gurdwara president defends actions, says no more response from him (Asia Samachar, 1 March 2016)
Ipoh gurdwara president lodges criminal intimidation report, lorry driver held (Asia Samachar, 29 Feb 2016)
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