Some months after nine executive committee (exco) members resigned en-bloc, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) is still beleaguered with troubles.
A group badging themselves as the ‘early and senior members’ of the Kuala Lumpur-based Sikh youth organisation have issued the marching orders to the sitting SNSM leader.
Dr Jasbir Singh, a long-time member of the organisation, was reelected last year to lead the five-decade old organisation for another two-year term. A contest for the only position that is up for grabs under the SNSM constitution was averted after Jasbir had reached a compromise with a group that had been at logger heads with his team for months prior to the organisation’s annual general meeting.
“It is for the members to decide if they are happy to continue with the present state of the Sabha or to vote for change,” reads the open letter entitled ‘Taking Sabha Out of Trouble Waters’ that has been making its rounds on the social media. See the full letter below.
“Sabha is just drifting away,” Sukhdev Singh, a former airline pilot and himself a former SNSM jathedar, told Asia Samachar. “If I were to ask my conscience if Sabha is being led wisely, in all fairness, the answer is ‘No’.”
AN ALTERNATE VIEW: Trojan Horse in Sabha
He was one of the 13 people whose names appear in the l,270 word letter. Adding their weight to the letter were Master Daljit Singh, a retired school headmaster and a former SNSM jathedar, as well as SNSM former secretary Suret Singh, a retired Malaysian civil servant who was recently made the chairman of Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS).
When asked if he was the lead author of the letter, Sukhdev said he had contributed ideas to the letter.
It is understood that the open letter was a prelude to the backers calling for an emergency general meeting (EGM) should Jasbir decide to stay in office.
When asked to comment on the development, Jasbir told Asia Samachar that the SNSM exco would respond soon to clear the air.
After the mass exodus, key members left in the SNSM exco included former airline technician Paramjeet Singh as meet jathedar (deputy president) and banker Khushwant Singh as secretary.
Here is the letter in full:
TAKING SABHA OUT OF TROUBLE WATERS
Dear Members and well wishers of the Sabha. We, the early and senior members of the SNSM listed below seek to inform you that we are proposing an EGM to once and for all give everyone the opportunity to have their say on the way the Sabha is being run. As you can imagine, it was a very difficult decision. But the astonishing circumstances surrounding the Jathedari, where for the first time in our 60 year history, we saw the Jathedar abusing his authority, and 10 members submitting their immediate resignations, have left us with absolutely no choice. Many opportunities were given to the Jathedar to fix things, starting with the last AGM, where he was permitted to stay in place if he leads the Sabha responsibly. This he has failed to do.
By exercising veto power which the Jathedar of Sabha does not have, he has gone to the extent of violating the Sabha constitution which for us is a sacred document established on Sikhi principles of ‘Nimarta’ and ‘Satkaar’, a constitution that was put in place by our founding fathers under the guidance of Sant Sohan Singh ji Melaka. Since January this year, he was given many opportunities to agree to an amicable arrangement. But he has rejected all our initiatives, saying the proposed changes ‘are not acceptable to his advisors’. Needless to say, he has refused to step down honourably , which would have been the right way for a humble Sikh of the Guru when so many members are unhappy with his failure to lead properly. Instead, he stubbornly chooses to cling on to his chair.
Sabha Jathedar is elected for 2 years. He was re-elected in July 2018. So 2019 is NOT AN ELECTION YEAR. This year in 2019 we can only have the AGM, but without elections. This means he will continue till July 2020 until the next election. Are you prepared to wait another 1 ½ years for him to go? And then he will still try to put in place his own people to continue after him. Even in 2020, we will still have to have a face-off at the AGM. So how does waiting for 2020 election solve the problem? We just postpone the problem and still have to slug it out anyway. So we succeed or not, why not be done with it right now? At least we will know what the members want. Then everyone can go back to their lives.
In such a circumstance, this is what our constitution says; (10.3) The Jathedar (President) may be removed from office by a majority vote at an Extraordinary General Meeting called for that purpose.
It is for the members to decide if they are happy to continue with the present state of the Sabha or to vote for change. Are you willing to condone abuse of authority? Are you going to allow the Sikhi values of our Sabha to be trampled upon by someone who is desperate for ‘Kursee’ but not contributing? Kindly ask yourself. Is this what we learnt from our Guru?
Sabha is in ‘ICU’.
1. The Sabha house is silent.
2. The Ipoh Branch is hampered, with little help from HQ, but trying hard to keep going through their own efforts.
3. Penang branch operating with no help from HQ.
4. Kedah branch is gone
5. Johor branch is gone
6. Youths nationwide who were instrumental in running the Sabha have been forced to set up ‘Satellite Groups’ to carry out their dream projects.
7. The annual samelan is a tiny shadow of its former glory.
8. Sabha vans are gone.
9. Vesakhi Grand Event is gone.
10. The Sikhi Tsunami 550 launched with so much fanfare is gone.
11. All the jathas that rose up to serve have gone.
12. Now even the Hola Mahalla is in limbo!
13. Due to its poor performance and its questionable alliances with organisations that are anti Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Donations to the Sabha have gone. Sabha itself is struggling financially.
Was this your dream Sabha? Is it to see this day that all of us spent our lifetime working for the Sabha? Many of you have young children, or will have families soon. Is this what they will inherit from us all? At the rate the Sabha is declining, what will be left of the Sabha in 10 years?
We the seniors may have initiated the EGM. But it is for you to decide. It is about you, not us. You, the youth, the future of the Sabha, together with other elders, are being given the power to choose your future. Whether the EGM succeeds or not is NOT going to affect us in our generation. We have done our part in the years gone by. We are approaching our ‘golden years’. It is time you all, the members were handed the right to choose whether the Sabha is given a new life, and returned to its rightful place in Malaysian Sikh society.
Give ‘Change’ a chance. ‘Change’ cannot be worse than how things are today. Things can only improve. We are so far down at rock bottom that things can only get better!
One thing must be clearly understood. No one is against anyone. All of us have spent lifetimes together. We do not have any problem with anyone. Everyone is equally dear to us. We are ONE FAMILY and we will remain like that. Our members running the Sabha now are not disagreeable to us. Our call for the EGM is only because we are disillusioned, seeing what we were and what we have become. We only disagree on an idea; how the Sabha is being run. A change of that idea is necessary for Sabha to return to its former respectful place in our community. That is all. Every single person that is there today will still have every avenue to continue with your seva. But the present approach has failed. We need a new outlook, a new vision and mission statement.
Since we have voiced out our grievance, to be fair to the Jathedar, we welcome him to write his explanation as to why despite all of the above failures, he should be allowed to continue as Jathedar. If he can give a convincing reply why we should continue to support him, and we will stand down and not go on with the EGM. This is our firm commitment. Surely you must have a reason why you are refusing to step down. We are sure all Sabha members would like to hear what you have to say.
Dear members, you may hear someone say ‘why have an EGM? It is not the Sabha way. Sure. We agree. Well said. But is what the Jathedar doing the ‘Sabha Way?’ We already tried ‘the Sabha Way’ at the last AGM. Did that help? Did anything change? Did anything improve?
The easiest thing to do in any difficult situation is – to do nothing. It takes courage to ‘do something’. We have chosen to ‘do something’. And no one will ever be able to say, “There was so much going wrong, but you people did nothing!” We have done our duty. We pray you will do yours. Guru kirpa karey.
In support of the above:
Master Daljit Singh, Dato Suret Singh, Prof. Dr Paramjeet Singh, Giani Lakhbir Singh, V. Sukdev Singh, V. Serjit Singh, B. Bhav Bhanjan Kaur, Gurmukh Singh, Harjinder Singh (Penang Branch), Keshmahinder Singh, Master Ajmer Singh, Gian Singh, Harbhajan Kour, and many more senior members from Malaysia and overseas.
Road safety champion Suret Singh to chair Malaysian road safety institute (Asia Samachar, 4 Feb 2019)
Hawkish fatwa (Asia Samachar, 23 July 2018)
Newly appointed SNSM exco issues stand on Dasam Granth (Asia Samachar, 21 July 2018)