| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 18 Oct 2015 | Asia Samachar |
The perceived lost of trust from the wider Sikh sanggat and the location of its next signature annual camp dominated the annual meeting of Sikhs Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) yesterday.
The 49th annual general meeting of SNSM, one of the more active Sikh organisations in the country, saw its members raising the alarm of what they perceived to be the eroding trust of members in the organisation over the years.
“When people talk about the Sabha now, two things come to mind – Sabha is rich, it is spendthrift,” said Gurmel Singh, a lawyer and a former executive committee (exco) member of the organisation.
“Look at the Cheras programme where we bring so many raagis. People I know are cautious of donating towards the Sabha because of such perceptions. The second point [to me] is more alarming,” he told the general house that met at the organisation’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur where the AGM was held on 17 Oct 2015.
The Cheras programme, as it is commonly called, refers to the annual kick-off for the Vaisakhi celebration. It was initially mooted as a one-off programme to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa in 1999, but has since become an annual feature in the SNSM calendar.
The four-day programme, held at an international centre in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, attracts a huge sanggat. SNSM sponsors, directly or indirectly, popular raagi’s like Sarabjit Singh Ranggila Durg Wale, Gurpreet Singh Shimla Wale and Chardi Kala Jatha.
Among the Sikh parcharaks who have been invited to the programme were the late Sant Singh Maskeen, Gagandeep Singh (Sri GangaNagar Wale) and Giani Jaswant Singh Parwana.
Popular raagis and parcharaks usually demand a high fee, which has been a bone of contention among many members of the Sikh sanggat over the years.
Former SNSM jathedar Pritam Singh said the Sabha had been ‘spending wildly’, especially after they had started receiving Government funding.
“The fundings were ‘one-off’, not annual. We seem to have forgotten that,” he said.
In the procees, he said the SNSM had ‘ignored the Sanggat’ and had become ‘Klang Valley focussed’.
The SNSM and a number of other Sikh organisations had received Federal Government funding for a number of years, with RM800,000 in 2014 being the most recent.
Boghar Singh, another former SNSM senior executive member, said that the organisation had not been getting donations like before ‘due to back bitting’.
CAMP AT KHALSA LAND
The other major issue that dominated the meeting was the proposal to organise the next Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan at the organisation’s camp site in Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB), Selangor.
The main concerns expressed by members were the potential of cost-overrun and safety of the participants in the proposed make-shift camps.
The annual camp, first held in Port Dickson in 1963, is the organisation’s longest-running event. The one-week camps usually attracts some 1,000 participants and 200 stay-in volunteers (sevadars), and a big number of visitors. It is usually held in Government schools, usually those with boarding facilities.
“I’m concerned with the huge number of temporary structures to be put up,” said Gian Singh, a senior member of the SNSM, who also sits on the SNSM sub-committee to develop the KKB land popularly known as the Khalsa Land.
Manjeet Singh, a lawyer who leads a number of Gurmat discussion groups, also raised concerns with the plans to hold the camp at Khalsa Land.
“The samelans are not meant to be endurance camps for children,” he had written in a personal message to the SNSM jathedar Pavandeep Singh which had been widely circulated on a number of Whatsapp groups.
In his briefing to the house, Pavandeep elaborated on the plans for the camp at KKB.
“It seems they have covered quite a bit of ground. I’m impressed with what I saw,” one member told Asia Samachar.
In the end, the meeting gave the SNSM executive committee the final say to decide if the camp will be held at Khalsa Land or revert to another location.
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