What happened to my ‘model’ Sikh community at Subang?

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The new lineup elected to lead SSAS at its EGM on 4 May 2019 led by Amrick SIngh (standing, 3rd from left) as president. Others are VP 1 – Amanjeet Singh, VP 2 – Bhajan Kaur, VP 3 – Darshan Kaur, Hon Sec – Ranthir Kaur, Asst Sec – Jasbir Kaur, Treasurer – Kulwant Kaur, Asst Treasurer – Tervander Singh; Committee Members: 1. Balvinder Singh 2. Harjinder Kaur 3. Jugindar Kaur 4. Preton Singh 5. Amarjit Singh – Photo: Asia Samachar?
By Hb Singh | OPINION | MALAYSIA |

I’ve always admired the Subang Sikhs. A segment of this Malaysian urban Sikhs has worked hard to build a community, and eventually put up a much needed gurdwara building. In my mind, they were close to a model Sikh community for their vision and drive to uplift the community, going way beyond running a gurdwara.

But things have soured in the last one year since the inauguration of their four-storey gurdwara building in 2018. This was evident from the intense rivalry for control of Subang Sikh Association Selangor (SSAS). Two pioneering sevadars led two equally formidable teams to manage SSAS that runs the Subang gurdwara.

What happenned? This question made me take a drive to the gurdwara building where the election was being conducted. I wanted to hear first hand from the people involved and some of the members.

Both sides had engaged in active lobbying. They circulated via Whatsapp and Facebook their respective lineup and their manifesto. They made their case and canvassed for votes.

“The week has been intense,” one of the candidates told me when I bumped into her just days before the Subang Sikhs D-Day.

In a nutshell, two things. One, growing pains of a group running an association that has now added a gurdwara of their own making. Running an association is challenging, running a gurdwara even more so. This band of sevadars now face the reality of running a gurdwara and the all that comes with it. Ask anyone who has done it and they will tell it’s no walk in the park.

Second, managing the fallout of an on-going debate on the reinterpretation of what is Sikhi. The debate is global and has been making its round for some time now. And the debate is real, regardless whether you are plugged into it or not. The change proponents want to effect changes immediately, others say go slow. On the other opposite side of the divide are those who do not agree with the reinterpretation and desire status quo.

“Why the need to make all these maryada changes? Let’s us just stick to what our forefathers have been practicing,” another contendor told me.

The maryada debate has taken its toll on this local community. You can sense the after-effects. I think we need to go slow on the changes, if warranted. We must first educate ourselves on issues at play. But that’s a topic on its own, perhaps for another day.

But not everyone is concerned with  maryada. “I’m voting for people who have been serving at the gurdwara over the past year,” said one member. “No votes for faces I don’t recognise.”

And the members spoke at emergency general meeting yesterday (4 May 2019).

Now, the more important bit. How will this winning side rally as many members of the Sanggat to common objectives? Let’s not talk about the elusive unity. I would settle for a good portion of Sanggat coming together to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their fellow seekers.

In the past, the Subang Sikh team talked about running more than a gurdwara. Time to make it happen.

RELATED STORY:

Amrick Singh’s team make clean sweep of Subang gurdwara elections (Asia Samachar, 4 May 2019)

Subang gurdwara built for RM4.8m, no cost overrun (Asia Samachar, 21 April 2018)

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. “Let us move forward together” and “We are the servants of the community”.
    Sanggat especially those from Subang and neighboring areas, hopes and prays that these are not political statements which are recited every time by winners of elective positions but forgotten soon after by many and in most cases personal interests take precedence over common good of the Sanggat and community.
    The advise that the new elected officials should “Be the cohesive voice rather than a divisive entity. Bind everyone together. The purpose of standing for elections is to do Guru Ji’s work.” is a good reminder of what Sanggat and Community hopes and expects.
    Congratulations to those elected and hope the other team will now join the newly elected committee and not be opposition for sake of opposing.
    If they do not or cannot unite for common good then the losers will be the Sanggat and Sikhi.

    I have been calling for TRANSPARENCY in respect of FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT by emphasising the NEED TO MAKE PUBLIC the ACCOUNTS as this indicates ACCOUNTABILITY. Justifying rejection of making the Accounts public that it is only for registered members may not be acceptable as DONATIONS-CONTRIBUTIONS-CHARRAWAAS in whatever form are also from NON-MEMBERS who form the Sanggat.

    FAILURE TO DO SO NORMALLY GIVES RISE TO SUSPICIONS THAT THERE COULD BE POSSIBILITY OF MISMANAGEMENT-FRAUD-COLLUSION-EMBEZZLEMENT-NEPOTISM-CRONYISM OF FUNDS-ASSETS-PROCUREMENTS-ETC This comment is based on my past audit of Accounts of some Gurdwaras and comments by some who have audited some Gurdwaras Accounts and common talk and periodical reports in the media when there are conflicts during elections with the Police making their presence.

    [My article titled TRUST FUNDS” TRANSPARENCY-ACCOUNTABILITY
    [GURDWARAS AND SIKH NON-GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS]
    was published in Asia Samachar some years ago. Similarly I have regularly given my views on the need for TRANSPARENCY-ACCOUNTABILITY for the USAGE of various GRANTS received from GOVERNMENT and/or Other Sources but sadly there has yet to be any positive response or follow up.]

    ASIA SAMACHAR website is the best possible avenue to make public the Accounts of Gurdwaras/Sikh NGOs
    Which Gurdwara Management Committee or Sikh NGO will take the lead and make public their Accounts for all the Sanggat to see in ASIA SAMACHAR]
    GURU FATEH

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