Former gurdwara president unhappy with how council distributed funds

“Since last year, many gurdwaras are suffering, big or small. They have their overheads. At this juncture, the Sikh centre is not a priority. It’s a matter of survival [for gurdwaras]. MGC should distribute the full amount to the gurdwaras as they require them now." - AWTAR SINGH

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By Asia Samachar| Malaysia  |

The umbrella body for gurdwaras in Malaysia should not withhold for itself ‘a big portion’ of the state funds recently allocated by the federal government. A former gurdwara committee president questioned the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) for the move.

“The council has taken one-third of the RM3 million allocated for ‘unnecessary’ purposes,” former Puchong gurdwara committee president B Awtar Singh told Asia Samachar.

In April, the Malaysian federal government announced the approval of RM3 million for gurdwaras in Malaysia and an additional one-off RM1 million funding for the establishment of a new Sikh centre.

Prime Minister Muhyddin Yassin made the announcement at the Vaisakhi 2021 hi tea organised by the MGC in Petaling Jaya on 12 April 2021. The funds were to be channeled via the MGC.

In a letter dated 25 May 2021 to gurdwaras, MGC provided the breakdown for the RM3 million funding. The 120 gurdwaras nationwide will receive RM15,000 each (totalling RM1.8 million); RM485,000 set aside for special gurdwara projects (to pay for urgent repairs, etc); RM200,000 for Panjabi/Gurbani classes and administration, RM200,000 for Malaysian Sikh Centre fund and an additional RK15,000 for Petaling Jaya gurdwara as ‘slightly extra funds…as stated by YAB Prime Minister’.

The distribution to individual gurdwara is now underway, ostensibly delayed by the pandemic induced movement control orders.

Awtar, who is also a local leader of a political party, queried why MGC has earmarked more funds for the Sikh centre, on top of the RM1 million already made available.

“Since last year, many gurdwaras are suffering, big or small. They have their overheads. At this juncture, the Sikh centre is not a priority. It’s a matter of survival [for gurdwaras]. MGC should distribute the full amount to the gurdwaras as they require them now,” he said.

Asia Samachar has reached out to Jagir for comments.

In a speech at the April event, Jagir said the ‘religious, cultural, heritage and language Sikh centre’ would, among others, house around 10 religious experts who would assist gurdwaras in undertaking their religious obligations as well as train local granthis.

A granthi, literally, means a reader of the Sikh scripture called Guru Granth Sahib. The word also commonly refers to the person hired by gurdwaras to manage the Sikh religious affairs.

The MGC mooted centre, estimated to cost between RM10 million to RM12 million, will also showcase the rich heritage of classical music (sangeet), establish a national Sikh library, conduct traditional self-defence training and provide Gurbani discourse.

“This is a new centre, and will have its own building. We will form a professional committee for the setting up of the Sikh Centre as well as fund raising,” Jagir then told Asia Samachar.

In a report in May 2021, Asia Samachar noted that many gurdwaras in Malaysia and Singapore saw their regular income stream disrupted by measures deployed to break the spread of Covid-19, forcing them to resort to their savings to keep things going. For smaller gurdwaras with little reserves, they have had to call upon local well-wishers to fill the gap.

RELATED STORY:

Muhyiddin approves RM4m for Malaysian gurdwaras, new Sikh centre (Asia Samachar, 12 April 2021)

Gurdwaras turn to savings to keep things going (Asia Samachar, 31 May 2020)

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond.Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

1 COMMENT

  1. I believe Urban and Semi-Urban Gurdwara have the funding or able to get funding. The funds should go to Gurdwara in smaller towns where they might be struggling to stay afloat. Or Gurdwara that has recently expanded, took loans and are having payment/cash-flow issues. More thought need to go I to this than just dividing equally. Who am I to comment, much more learned people running the show.

    Priority is to ensure no Gurdwara close down during this time.

    Giving extra to PJ, understand that it was agreed, might question, do they need it during covid or other Gurdwara need it more?

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