The fault is in our stars

The Johor incident, started two years ago, has certainly escalated into the formation of several new organizations [NBA, Nichiren Buddhist Association]. They are sprouting throughout the country, cancer cells spreading or beautiful flower buds blooming, depending on which side you are listening to. In the four decades of kosen-rufu movement in Malaysia, this incident can easily be the most damaging and the effects will be far reaching. Perhaps it is a good time for all of us to take a step back and look at what has happened and assess the damages.

First, we look at the damages to SGM

  • Division and mutual suspicion among our leaders. Two main factions emerged, one sympathizing with the Rescue group and the other feel that they are just a bunch of trouble makers, influenced by the Devil, out to disrupt the harmony of our practitioners. Both sides are certain that they are on the side of justice and the other is evil.
  • The general level of trust and confidence towards the top leaders in the ECC and the General Council also took a beating. The individuals in these committees [ECC, CSC and GC] the highest decision makers, consist of the same individuals mostly. Thus, it is difficult to convince that they are independent and impartial in investigating allegations of corruption.
  • Diminishing the fervor for kosen-rufu among the general leadership. Shakubuku numbers are falling, recording low rate of expansion throughout the entire year of 2015. The terminations of the Rescue leaders and one Vice General Director are seen as harsh and attempts to silence dissenting voices within the organization. This is further aggravated when the termination angered the Johor leaders and resigned en mass, over 400 of them in Johor.
  • The faith of many leaders and members are affected, causing some to leave the organization and resigned as leaders. Those who raised uncomfortable questions about governance and internal controls were labeled as having faith problems, ‘being influenced’ and labeled as anti-Gakkai. Thus, some chose to simply practice on their own and strive in kosen-rufu in their own family and work place, rather than be part of the leadership.

SGM is bleeding. The casualty rate is high. Then again, we can also look at the benefits from this incident.

  • SGM agreed to hire external auditor to audit our 2016 accounts. The decision was made in 2016 May, during the AGM. Although clearly stipulated in the organisation’s Constitution, there had been no external audit done before this. Clearly a violation of the SGM’s Constitution. Thanks to the Rescue group demand, the General Council finally relented to allow external audit. Being an organization of assets worth over billions, it’s unthinkable that we still operate like a sundry shop. What took them so long? Anyway, it is in the process of being done. And that’s good.
  • SGM has also agreed to tighten the internal controls of financial and overall management. The project to introduce additional controls was broadcasted to each state in a series of road-shows, attended by Chapter level leaders. The four pillars of our governance exercise are – transparency, responsibility, accountability and fairness. With the implementation of good governance practice, we can prevent abuses and corruptions by making it much harder. We have prevented many potential case of corruption in the future.
  • The maturing of our general leadership of the need to keep a strict eye on the top management in financial and management matters. This is to ensure that SGM do not allow people with malicious intent to take advantage of. A most significant development. The importance of having many wise leaders is the best weapon we can have to prevent the abuse of power and corruption of the top leadership. But we cannot let our guard down. The proof of the pudding is in eating it. Until the entire exercise can proceed smoothly and speedily, while remaining faithful to the four pillars, we must continue to monitor and not let our guard down.

Having list out the damages and the benefits, we also cannot deny the fact that it has severely affected our organization. The status quo cannot be allowed to continue and worsen. We need to explore more solutions and gather different opinions. This is what Vice GD Pang SGI seminar sharing. ‘We must be more inclusive. The method we used in the 80s no longer works. As leaders, we cannot say ‘I know best.’ Listen to more people.’

I believe the ECC also understood the grave consequences of allowing this issue to drag on. Thus, they have tried, three times, in the past to put a stop to this and bring back the entire organization back on its original track.

  1. First attempt, when Rescue group declared their dissolution after coming back from Japan and GD Koh said that both sides were good people.
  2. Second attempt was in November 2015, with the formation of ECC and appointment of new MD chief, WD chief and YWD chief. Moving forward.
  3. Third attempt was In May 2016, right after the termination of the 10 Rescue leaders and one Vice GD. There was even a memo by KL Chief Mr Sun that declare the closure of the Johor incident, labeling them as evil and plotted the entire scheme for the past two years.

Unfortunately, all three attempts failed. What have we learn from these three attempts? Do we want to continue with the same strategy and expect a different result? Or should we take a step back and reassess why we did not manage to resolve the Johor issue?

The fault is not in our stars. It is in ourselves. To continue pointing finger at others and suggesting evil plotting of malicious people wanted to wrest control of the organization will not resolve our situation. Or conveniently blame everything on sansho shima attacking us because we are at the brink of opening SEATC won’t work. We cannot blame others entirely and continue to live in denial. It will not help us genuinely resolve any problem. SGM top leaders need to be honest to our members.

We have to look inwards. Look at the mirror and ask – Why? What have we done wrong? Identify the weaknesses, admit and recognize our faults and apologise sincerely. Then, we take measure to rectify the weakness and prevent such things from repeating in the future. This is the way forward. This is the practice of human revolution. Human revolution is the favourite guidance of our General Director, Mr Koh. Perhaps, SGM’s top leaders need to take this guidance to heart.

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