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.
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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