Q: Why do you hate SGM so much? Try to destroy this beautiful Buddhist organization working for the happiness of ordinary people in our society. Why do you continue your attacks on SGM and its top leaders? Don’t you ever get tired?
QR: We don’t hate SGM. In any organization, there are bound to be some areas of strengths and some weaknesses. And it is equally important, if not more, to understand and identify correctly the weaknesses, so that we can rectify it, preventing it from metastasize into an advance cancer. This can severely hamper the advancement the kosen-rufu movement in Malaysia. Better to nip it at its bud.
We cannot cover our weaknesses by engaging only in good news and loudly claim that everything is hunky-dory. Denial is not an option. Do you label your doctor as evil and ignore him when he brings bad news? Look, I am not saying you’re a fool, but one who does this is certainly a bona fide fool.
Q: Should we accept all criticisms?
QR: When criticism appear, we need to differentiate between good and bad criticisms. Constructive criticisms are important. It’s feedback. Like a black box. Studying and thoroughly investigating the black box can prevent thousands of similar air crash in the future, and save millions of lives. Sweeping it under the carpet is akin to ignoring the black box, putting the airline reputation and business interest higher than the lives of the passengers.
Constructive criticisms consist of sound reasoning, substantiated claims and recommendations to correct the weaknesses highlighted. Destructive criticisms, meanwhile, is full of hate language, venom, labelling and often in fully BLOCKED letters, hoping that the loud volume can make up for the lack in the reasoning.
We, at QR, did our best in the hope that we can start more meaningful conversations and alerting members to the necessity of genuine reform in our organization. And be as constructive as possible.
We do not hate SGM. We were misunderstood. And we have good intentions.
Q: What do you think of the top leaders respond to your actions?
QR: Disappointing. They label QR as the work of evil outright and issued instruction to all leaders not to read QR. Failing which, one may risk losing all good fortune and fall into the hell of incessant suffering. Fear mongering. These are exact words from the General Director himself.
Labelling is bad. This is what Mr Ikeda said about labelling when he was discussing Dickens’ work, A tale of two cities, with Jin Yong.
…the dreadfulness of labelling people. According to the novel, there was a banner used in the French Revolution which carried the declaration, ‘National Property. Republic One and Indivisible. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death!’
This admonishes that one must distinguish one’s enemies from one’s allies, and cast one’s lot with one side or the other. By labelling people so starkly, this exhortation whips up the flames of sinister human passions. It provokes fanaticism. If a revolution yields to that kind of sentiment, no matter how noble the cause or lofty the founding principles, the initial spirit is already dead. Further, this revolutionary effort will be doomed to failure.
Compassionate light in Asia – a dialogue. P. 196.
The degree of labelling by SGM today is severe and bordering on lunacy. Those identified and labelled as traitors, devils or ‘perverse priests’, are being followed closely on social media. If any member was to be spotted with them or took photograph with them, they will be questioned immediately and asked where their loyalty lies, with GD or not. They will also be warned not to mixed with these individuals, lest they be mixed up themselves. Failure to obey will result in being stripped of leadership position in the organization. A few were being unceremoniously stripped of their positions for failing to comply.
My question is, why are these few individuals be regarded as such a huge threat to the large organization? What are they [top leaders] afraid of? Why can’t the top leaders allow the members to freely make friends with whoever they want and sought to control the behavior of the members? Why is SGM acting like a cult, cannot do this and that?
To be fair, some grassroot SGM leaders realized this isn’t right. Thus, they pleaded with members to NOT take photograph and post onto their social media, but can go ahead and hang out with them. Just keep it below the radar, curi-curi la. [Stealthily].
Q: But today is 11.18, Soka Gakkai Founding Day. It was on this day, in 1930, that Mr Makiguchi, founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai. 88 years ago. The Soka Gakkai is an organization of great good. In the same book, Mr Ikeda described the Soka Gakkai as,
‘…is not based on hierarchical relationship or those seeking their own self-interest. Rather, it is an organization that transcends self-interest and status and unites people through love and profound friendship among equals.’
Compassionate Light in Asia – A dialogue, p.59
QR: Fully concur. It is. Or rather, it was. In SGM, there were many good people, truly earnest and sincere grassroot leaders, dedicated to the happiness of others. Even today, there are many beautiful friendship among equals in many parts of the organization. Sadly, we can’t say the same for the top leaders. Many are jostling for position, sacrificing others to protect oneself, silencing dissent by authoritarian actions like expel and termination. The rot at the top is deep.
Q: Are there no good people at the top?
QR: There are many SGM level leaders who have chosen to remain silent in the face of their comrades being sidelined and terminated. Only their silence would protect their own positions. They knew what happened. They were aware with the abuse of power, mishandling of funds and conflicts of interest. At times, silence is not enough. One need to speak up to condemn the dissenters and rally support for the General Director in leaders meeting to proof one’s loyalty. Only then can one safeguard one’s position. Positions are being dangled as carrots and reward for one’s loyalty, not with the intent to serve the members with greater sense of responsibility. Kind of like UMNO when they were the government.
The former Johor State Chairman, for example, started a company to import everything on behalf of the state of Johor SGM, things like butsudan, ceremonial accessories and furniture. The amount exceeds six figures each year. This is not fabrication. Perniagaan Fu Hou were formed by the said individual and appeared in the report by SGM General Council and disclosed in an All Leaders Meeting in Johor Bahru.
Some top leaders even spoke up about this blatant conflict of interest initially. But eventually, they turned a blind eye and chosen to walk the path of least resistance, avoiding trouble for themselves. When they sense that the dissenters were about to be decimated, they quickly abandoned ship and switched sides. Those who stuck to their guns faced the fire and were swiftly eliminated. Their good names tarnished.
Q: Looks like we have deviated much in terms of spirits from the founders’ ideals of what Soka Gakkai is about. I wonder whether we can see the day where righteousness prevails, evil vanquished and the beautiful harmonious relationships return to SGM before I die.
QR: I believe this is an important period for us, to learn the most important lesson from all these negative events and grow in our lives, mature in our faith. It’s futile to look and hope only for the return of the golden age, or to hope for some knight in shining armour to save the day. There will be no such thing. Important is we learn the most important spirit and teachings of the Daishonin, the three presidents and continue to live our lives as actual proof, testimony to the correctness of their philosophy and teachings.