Many people are seeking answers to the root cause of the this very sad crisis in SGM. The official line from SGM, from the various Soka Spirit Newsletter and official speeches, seems to be:
- These are all malicious attacks from evil forces out to destroy the harmonious SGM. The troublemakers plotted and staged the entire saga to make members not to trust the central leadership and our GD in particular. They will all fall into Avichi hell, just like the gosho say, and suffer miserably in their lives because they dare to destroy the harmonious organization of the Buddha’s will and Buddha’s decree.
- The evil forces employed various social media like WhatsApp, Facebook, blogs and video clips to create confusion and anger. None of it is true. In fact, it is slander to even read them. Stick to only official SGI and SGM publication and news. If you read them, your faith will be shaken because they are very good and can confuse you. Stay away from it.
- We have checked all the accounts in Johor and did not find any evidence of corruption. The Johor Rescue group went all the way to Japan with the Region Chief then, and even SGI cleared the Chief of any corruption. Yes, there may be procedural errors or inappropriateness in handling of money, but that is all. No corruption.
- Our GD went to each region and dialogue with them, explain the whole saga patiently to the Region leaders. But some behaved badly and rudely, not sincere in the dialogue and only out to make the GD look bad by asking all sorts of questions.
- We must put our total trust in the GD because he was appointed, and most trusted by, Mr Ikeda, to lead kosen-rufu in Malaysia. No one else is more capable and suitable.
- We are an organization of faith, where people come to practice joyfully and harmoniously, not to fight and argue. Good governance practice like those in the corporate sector is not suitable for a faith organization like us. In SGM, the most important is to have the heart of our mentor. It is faith and trust. Even with the best systems, we still cannot guarantee that there is no corruption. Of course, we are also carrying out some changes to tighten the process of financial transactions in SGM today, but we will do it in our own schedule and not one dictated by the you or any other party. The form and structure will also be determined by us, and not any party outside.
The younger generation today communicates on a very different frequency. Their thinking, values and behavior are also different from the older generation. This is where they disagree.
- We believe in facts. You cannot say there is no corruption until you carry out a thorough forensic audit by an independent and reputable party. The audit team must be given unlimited access, full cooperation and no intervention to carry out their task. Until we carry out a forensic audit, all claims of no corruption is a whitewash.
- We believe large corporations are inherently evil. We were fed a constant diet through the media of corruption and abuse of power by people in high office, be it government, corporate and non-profit sectors. We trust, but we also want to verify. We do not trust something simply because he is the head or the one picked by Ikeda Sensei. It does not mean we don’t trust or respect Mr Ikeda. But it is wrong to use Mr Ikeda’s name to shut people from questioning. In the past, there have also been numerous top leaders, all handpicked by Mr Ikeda, who went on and betrayed the Gakkai.
- We are better educated and believe a solid system of check and balance is indispensable. A strict system of governance with full accountability is indispensable with a large organization like SGM. Not having this system is foolish and open ourselves to all sorts of attacks like in Johor.
- The principles of good governance in the corporate sector and the non-profit religious organisations are the same because it boils down to human greed and arrogance.
- SGM is owned by the members, not the top leaders. If this is a private company, the bosses can do whatever they want. But SGM is not. The members are the real bosses. And each member has a right to know how the money are being spent and to ensure that money matters are tightly control. These are, after all, the sincere contribution of our members. Asking for better controls is not evil. This is important to keep the organization clean and focus on kosen-rufu.
- People is important, more important than system, in fighting abuse of power and guarding against corruption in SGM. Thus, we must educate and make all our members wise in governance matters. Then, they will insist on good governance, and keep corruption and abuse at bay. They will keep a strict eye on top leaders. They will be able to ask the right questions.
- Manners are less important. We (the young people) speak directly, objectively and do not beat around the bush. It is not disrespect, but we were fostered that way, to speak up and be confidence. If we have a legitimate question, we expect top leaders to answer them with facts and honesty. Mr Ikeda repeated time and again that leaders are the servant to members.
- Negative news and messages in the social media will continue and this phenomenon is inevitable. Instead, we need to adapt, evolve and develop new strategies to confront these issues. Old strategy of containment, using slander to create fear and keeping bad news under wrap is not going to work today. Effective strategy includes good governance, communication, transparency and accountability. Asking people to stop reading, stop thinking and just trust are no longer viable.
The courage to speak up when one see something is not right is the right attitude. This is what Mr Ikeda taught the youth time and time again. Here is one example.
One who has the courage to speak the truth lives a truly splendid and fulfilling life. In any sphere of society if one loses this courage and become obsequious [too eager to obey someone important], one cannot resist exploitation by corrupt authorities.
The life of a person who shrinks before oppression and tries to get by with cunning strategies and falsehood is extremely pitiful. Such a life is self-defeating. Rather, by fighting against and pushing through all the evil that oppresses one, both internally and externally, one establishes a magnanimous self and a profound and happy state of life.
This is the purpose of faith.
Ikeda Sensei, 17 February 1990