By Asia Samachar Team | SINGAPORE |
Two teams are vying for the leadership of the Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA), an 89-year-old organisation strong in sports and cultural activities.
Sukhbir Singh, a certified accountant and a veteran Sikh volunteer with Singapore Sikh oganisations, has put up a team to challenge the slate led by incumbent president Hernaikh Singh.
“We need people on the management team who have the experience of running the club and understand the issues,” he told Asia Samachar in a telephone conversation. “Running the club is not so simple. When I went in [in 2009], I thought it was a straightforward thing. Once in, only then you realise how complex it is.”
Sukhbir, with more than three decades of experience in accountancy and consulting, currently runs his own professional firm. Qualified as a certified accountant in 1996, he opened a import and export business before setting up his professional firm specialising in management consultancy, accounting, tax and corporate compliance.
He was roped into the SKA management team in 2009. From then till 2018, he has served in various capacities, including general treasurer and general secretary. He was also SKA’s building committee treasurer.
“The journey that started with the intention of serving only one term, carried on indefinitely primarily because of the support, stability and experience that the more senior members provided as mentors,” according to his profile in a document introducing his team.
He has also served as general treasurer at Sikh Welfare Council (SIWEC), Sikh Missionary Society (SMS), Sikh Business Association (SBA) and Khalsa Dharmak Sabha (KDS).
At KDS, he continues to provide accountancy services that include preparing monthly management reports and arranging for the audit with external auditors, which he has been doing since 2008.
If elected, he pledged to ‘bring his wealth of serving SKA and the community to generate new revenue streams and transform the exiting revenue streams with a view to increasing our reserves as the lease is set to expire in 2028’.
Sukhbir responded to a set of questions sent by Asia Samachar. Below are excerpts from the interview.
What made you decide to run for the SKA presidency?
Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA) has a strong heritage built over 90 years from early years of Singapore. We had been fortunate to have generations of leaders who have protected SKA’s heritage, and enhanced through the association the profile of the community in the wider community of Singapore. Our history augurs well for it to continue to bring along our various Sikh institutions together to serve the community and ensure that we, although a small minority, continue to fly our flag high and be relevant and represented in Singapore.
I have been serving SKA at various positions since 2009, when our legendary leader Jagjit Singh Sekhon (fondly known as JJ) brought me into community service. I served untill 2018. Recently, I was approached by the young and my peers to stand as president for the SKA elections in 2020. After consultations with community leaders, my former colleagues at SKA and some of the current committee members, I decided to volunteer my services. With the encouragement and support of past presidents whom I have worked with, and blessings of my family, I decided to lead a team to work with the elected members to protect and build on SKA’s heritage.
What is your team’s main objectives?
If elected to serve, my focus with the team will be to broaden our core activities to serve our membership and community by expanding our scholarship program that was launched some years ago. We will put our new building and its unique infrastructure to better use through innovative use of the spaces to organise activities with a focus on youth, professionals, peers and our elderly.
These are extraordinary times – how COVID 19 plays out is important but importantly if elected my team and I will work to ensure SKA stays ahead of the curve and prepares to seize the opportunities post-Covid!
Some members in my team have experience in dealing with cost and revenue pressures in the SARS pandemic. We will navigate SKA forward to achieve our objectives to enhance our core activities to deliver quality over quantity and develop sustainable revenue streams to create reserves to renew our lease due in 8 years and ensure our infrastructure remains vibrant to meet the changing needs of our membership. .
What is the most pressing issue that you would attend to if elected president?
My team and I will leverage on our experience to provide stable management and ensure there is no revolving door MC due to conflicts. Young talent is hard to come by in community service – it’s important to mentor and nurture them and for the senior members of my team to serve as role models. It’s vital for the long-term survival of any organization to have good leadership and succession planning in place. It is thus important not only to bring in the youth but develop and mentor them to take over in due course.
We will grow our youth membership and have put together a number of initiatives to incentivise and reward young members who use our facilities.
Running the SKA with its facilities and many activities requires close attention to keeping expenditure in check. We plan to implement tried and tested prudent management of our costs and conduct life-cycle costing to ensure future operation costs do not escalate and be a burden on future MCs.
We have had much experience on managing costs and increasing revenues. Our revenue drivers have allowed us to undertake major enhancements of the SKA building over the years to meet evolving needs of the community. More recently, this prudent revenue and cost management approach has allowed us to practically reconstruct the SKA building into a spanking new building with more and enhanced facilities to meet future needs of the community. The building stands tall in the Balestier Plains as a visible and iconic symbol of our community.
We will further diversify and enhance SKA revenue streams over the next 8 years to ensure SKA remains the most vibrant of the Balestier Plain Clubs!
Can you share something on yourself?
I come from a humble background and basically follow the adage of working hard and letting the results speak for itself. I also believe in giving back to the community as form of sewa.
We brought down costs for contracts, says Singapore Khalsa Association president (Asia Samachar, 3 Nov 2020)
‘What we have is a new building’ (Asia Samachar, 9 Jan 2018)