Malaysian Gurdwaras Council defends apportionment of RM3m federal funds

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By Asia Samachar| Malaysia  |

The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) has defended the apportionment of the RM3 million funds received in May 2021 from the federal government.

In a response to a report in Asia Samachar, MGC president Jagir Singh said the criticism of its apportionment, as expressed by a former gurdwara committee president, was ‘unfair and without basis’.

In yesterday’s report, former Puchong gurdwara committee president B Awtar Singh said that 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. “The council has taken one-third of the RM3 million allocated for ‘unnecessary’ purposes,” he said.

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, to be channeled via the MGC, were received in the following month.

EXCERPTS FROM JAGIR’S RESPONSE TO ASIA SAMACHAR:

Please comment on the article in which a former gurdwara committee president has called for a review of apportionment of the RM3 million received from the federal government.

The unhappiness expressed by Sdr Awtar Singh in the distribution of funds is unfair and without basis.

The purposes for which the grant was sought was detailed to the YAB PM at the High Tea function on 12/4/21 by the MGC President in his speech detailing the requirements of the Gurdwaras and the Sikh Community. These included:
(i) Financial Grant for Gurdwaras to defray maintenance costs of Gurdwaras
(ii) financial grant to enable Gurdwaras to carry out special projects like fencing, langgar hall repairs , leaking roof repairs, etc.
(iii) financial grant for carrying out Gurbani classes, Punjabi classes for adults, etc.

The total requested was more than RM5 million but the YAB PM only approved RM3 million for all above 3 requests .Thus this RM3 million grant needed to be apportioned and this was done by the MGC Exco vide its zoom meeting in may 2021. Representatives from states had also participated in the discussion and subsequently took decision to apportion the RM3 million as follows:

  • RM15,000 to each of 120 Gurdwaras making a total of RM1.8 million.
  • Additional RM 15,000 was allocated to GS Petaling Jaya as per YAB PM request.
  • RM485,000/- was allocated for Gurdwaras to carry out renovation works. A total of 33 applications were received from Gurdwaras to carry out small projects and all were approved. MGC is now in the process of distributing payment cheques.
  • RM200,000 were allocated towards Gurbani classes,Punjabi classes for adults, etc.
  • RM500,000 was allocated for the much needed Malaysian Sikh Centre which is in response various Gurdwaras requests over the years for assistance in providing qualified Gianis who will be housed here. It will also be a centre for Culture, Religion, Heritage, Sangeet, auditorium for fine arts etc. Its total cost is estimated to be about RM12 million.The Gurdwara reps were supportive of this project and endorsed the need for it at the meeting.

Important to note that the apportionment of financial grant was done in accordance with the requests which were made to the YAB PM. Thus the requests to the YAB PM was not only for Gurdwaras but for other needs as detailed above. All Gurdwaras representatives who were present at the High Tea with the YAB PM on 12/4/2021 can vouch for above.

MGC had also sent out a circular to all the Gurdwaras informing of the Grant of the above RM3 million and its apportionment made by the MGC Executive committee.

Our feedback is that the Gurdwaras are in agreement with the above apportionment which was not only for Gurdwaras but for other needs. Letter to Gurdwaras had also mentioned about the RM1 million allocation towards the proposed Malaysian Sikh Centre.

It is clear from above that everything was done transparently.and following due processes and procedures.The MGC has 100 percent documentary records of any funds received and how distributed

In the letter, MGC said that RM485,000 was apportioned for gurdwaras to carry out renovation works. A total of 33 applications were received from gurdwaras to carry out small projects and all were approved. Please elaborate? What is the total payment for the 33 projects?

The approval has to be given by the MGC Exco. It meets at least four times a year. At every meeting the applications received until meeting date are considered. Any applications received later are considered at the following meetings.Thus applications will be considered in batches, at least 4 times in a year.

At the Exco meeting held in May 2021, a total of 33 applications received until date of meeting were considered. All were approved amounting to RM185,000.

MGC has received further applications after last meeting. This will be considered at meeting towards end of August. Once this fund is fully utilised, then Gurdwaras will have to wait for further funding.

The 33 Gurdwaras were: Wadda GS Kg Pandan, Greentown Ipoh, Subang, Menglembu, Port Dickson, Tawau, Wadda GS Penang, Port Kelang, Putra Heights, Teluk Intan, Tambun, Railways Ipoh, Serendah, Bayan Baru, Kuala Pilah, Sibu, Khalsa Dharmak Jatha Penang, Setia City Darbar, Bidor, Kuala Kangsar, Kajang, Kalumpang, Khalsa Land, Butterworth, Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB), Kota Kinabalu, Batu Pahat, Malacca, Tronoh Mines, Kampar, Sunway, Gunong Rapat and Kangar.

In the letter, MGC said RM200,000 was allocated towards Gurbani and Punjabi classes for adults, etc. Please elaborate.

Gurbani and Punjabi classes were started in December 2018 and ended in march 2020. Here, no money from government was received and classes conducted from own donations made and received. The present RM200,000 received in May are for Gurbani classes, Punjabi classes and for for MGC administration. No classes have been held yet under this allocation as all Gurdwaras are closed. Possibly only classes can be held next year.

MGC had decided to allocate RM500,000 for ‘the much needed’ Malaysian Sikh Centre, noting that it was in response various gurdwaras requests over the years for assistance in providing qualified granthis who will be housed at the centre. Why the need to allocate RM500,000 when RM1 million has already been given? Some may argue that certain gurdwaras may be in dire need of cash due to the current circumstances.

The total cost is at the moment estimated to be at least RM12 million. This project will benefit the Gurdwaras and the Sikh community.

You must compare sum RM500,000 against expected cost of RM12 million. We have to still raise more than RM10 million. In fact a Gurdwara rep, when agreeing had said if RM 500,000 was divided amongst 120 Gurdwaras it will only come up to about RM4000 per Gurdwara. But the RM 500,000 would be more meaningful when channelled towards the Sikh Centre.

Each GS is being given cash RM15,000. MGC is also assisting Gurdwaras to receive funds from state governments which are channelled directly to the Gurdwaras.

On top of all above, the apportionment of funds is done by the Exco which has reps from all states sitting on it. What more can a society like MGC do. It is easy to raise questions even how transparent, honest and ethically one conducts itself.

RELATED STORY:

Former gurdwara president unhappy with how council distributed funds (Asia Samachar, 11 Aug 2021)

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, 15 Aug 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. The allocation apportioned by MGC is fair. We should thank the MGC to have got this grant at this difficult times. We should also note that its not an annual grant. Some money should be reserved for emergencies, repairs, Granthis etc etc. We never know when a Gurdwara suddenly need some aid urgently. Above all we do not know when the next aid is coming. Carry on the good work MGC. Gurfateh.

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