| Petaling Jaya, Malaysia | 14 May 2017 | Asia Samachar |
The Petaling Jaya gurdwara, like many other Sikh places of congregation and prayer nationwide, has to start generating a steady income from investments to steer away from its dependence on direct donations from the congregation.
The Sanggat is overwhelmed by the numerous fund raising activities by new and exiting gurdwaras. It has been tough when one funds raising team after another comes knocking on the same doors.
This is one of the areas that Baldev Singh – a retired banker who had offered himself to lead the gurdwara management committee (GMC) for the first time – wanted to do. He felt that Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya (GSPJ) seriously needs to relook at its financing which is largely dependent on direct donations.
“We cannot go back to members every now and then. Many other gurdwaras are also seeking funding. Its virtually impossible to tap the same people again and again. So gurdwaras should have investment income,” he told Asia Samachar.
However, Baldev would not be able to directly lead the Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya (GSPJ) as it holds its annual general meeting today (14 May 2017). His nomination form to run for president was rejected on technicalities as it contained some faulty information.
His form was not the only rejected. Both candidates for the vice president post – outgoing secretary Avtar Singh ‘Terry’ and former president Harbajan Kaur – have also seen their forms rejected, also on technicalities.
As reported earlier, Baldev had accepted the decision to knock off his nomination form, saying: “I accept the decision. Constitution is supreme.” However, he and his team are expected to raise the manner of handling the nomination forms at the meeting today.
Badging themselves as the Chardikala Team 2017, they released a manifesto listing four items that they would like to pursue if given the mandate to run the GSPJ committee for the next two years.
Topping the list is upgrading the gurdwara’s existing facilities, including installation of lift, which they say has been overdue for the last 10 years.
The team also intend to redevelop the old gurdwara to generate income, implement development programmes to attract the youth back to gurdwara; and develop GSPJ as a centre of learning through improved Punjabi education and gurmat studies.
The members listed in the team included Harbajan Kaur, Semret Singh, Ravindar Singh, Amarjeet Singh, Balvinder Singh, Harjinder Singh, Dr Gurcharan Singh, Davinder Singh, Kernail Singh Shounki, Mohan Singh, Nirmal Singh, Satvinder Singh, Satwant Singh and Shamsher Singh.
They are up against the incumbent team led by outgoing president Gurdeep Singh, who now technically would assume the post unopposed. Some key members of the team include Avtar and Tarlocahan Singh Dhaliwal who is their candidate for the secretary post.
So, what made Baldev run for the GSPJ presidency? It largely has to do with the state of the gurdwara’s finance.
“Over the last one year, many Saturday and Sunday programmes have been empty. Some people have moved to Shah Alam. In one year’s time, more will move to Subang. That will be a big chunk, a big impact,” said Baldev.
Shah Alam, the state capital of Selangor, greeted its first gurdwara which was officially opened on 11 Dec 2015. Located 19km apart, Gurdwara Sahib Guru Nanak Shah Alam (GSGNSA) naturally now attracts Sikhs living in its vicinity, some of whom were earlier frequenting GSPJ.
By Vaisakhi 2018, the Subang Sikh Association Selangor (SSAS) hopes to see Gurdwara Sahib Subang up and running. The team there is actively raising funds to complete the four storey building, equipped with two heavy-duty lifts, estimated to cost RM4.8 million.
Both gurdwaras boast sizeable buildings and are set to be major Sikh local centres if their committees get their act right in attracting and retaining the congregation.
Petaling Jaya now has to marshall on with these new realities. In the past, it was able to tap the Sikhs living further apart, but they may now be drawn to those two gurdwaras.
“We welcome these gurdwaras. The Sanggat needs them,” Gurdeep told Asia Samachar in a telephone conversation.
However, the changing landscape may impact its finances.
GSPJ INCOME AND EXPENDITURE STATEMENT
(Year ended 31 Dec 2016)
Degh collection RM117,198 (2015: RM121,903)
Donations received RM451,431 (2015: RM451,750)
Golak RM29,032 (2015: RM41,849)
Gurpurab/jordmela collectios RM3,427 (2015: RM8,709)
TOTAL RM601,088 (2015: RM624,211)
“For the first time in history of this gurdwara, the receipts are less than the payment,” said Baldev. “In the past, they have always been in the positive region.”
An inspection of the GSPJ’s income and expenditure statement for year end 31 Dec 2016 shows a slight decline. The total for degh collection, donations, golak and gurpurab/jordmela collections for 2016 was RM601,088, down 3.7% from the year before at RM624,211.
Another concern for Baldev and his team is the lackluster performance of the existing committee in pushing forward plans to fix the lift for the existing gurdwara and the development of the piece of land which used to house the old gurdwara.
But he differs on the way moving forward and expressed reservations with the ‘grand plans’ to renovate the gurdwara.
“I’m saying don’t renovate. I suggested just spend on the lift. They have grand plans, costing RM2 million. I say use this money to invest in properties. At the old gurdwara, for example, we can build six apartments which can generate income. Many Chinese temples have such properties which give them income,” he said.
He pointed out that GSPJ earns RM10,000 a month from a RM2.7 million fixed deposit. He estimated that the gurdwara needs a minimum of RM60,000 for its monthly expenditure for salaries, utilities and others recurring items.
“The latest rumour is that I’m against the gurdwara development. Hardly. I can see the finances clearer than many others. Lets not deceive ourselves. We need to know the realities,” he said.
Today, GSPJ members will get a chance to check their realities and decide on their next course of action.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
Petaling Jaya: What to do with old gurdwara builiding? (Asia Samachar, 12 May 2017)
What happens to gurdwaras with no Sanggat (Asia Samachar, 6 May 2017)
Petaling Jaya old gurdwara building in dire straits (Asia Samachar, 5 May 2017)
Wheelchair-bound Keshvinder Kaur eagerly awaits completion of Subang gurdwara (Asia Samachar, 20 Aug 2016)
Shah Alam gurdwara final donation drive to raise RM700,000 (Asia Samachar,15 July 2016)
Managing gurdwara funds transparently, with accountability (Asia Samachar, 14 Feb 2016)
Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional: The Root Causes (Asia Samachar, 26 Jan 2016)
Sentul gurdwara to get RM400,000 for building upgrade: DPM Ahmad Zahid (Asia Samachar, 14 April 2016)
Bayan Baru gurdwara momentous move to new home (Asia Samachar, 9 June 2016)
Sungai Siput to renovate 90-year old gurdwara (Asia Samachar,13 Dec 2015)