Depressing scenario of our community leadership

Sydney, 26 August 2018

Depressing scenario of our community in politics is hard to miss or ignore.

There are too many community leaders around us. Most of them, unfortunately, have no idea why they are community leaders.

All you need to do is to register an association and become a community leader. It’s an easy job. This itself is not a problem, if you want to help people and do some good things for the community.

The problem is when you form an association to serve your personal interests, advance your political career, and you have nothing to do with community work or interests. If you do this, you become a con man. You do what you are not supposed to do, and you don’t do what you are supposed to do.

Let’s see what is happening in our community. As I said above, we have far too many associations and far too many community leaders.

After many years of masquerading as community leaders, some such people turn into “journalists” to stay relevant and to get invitations from the Consulate and Government agencies. Hilariously, some of them turn back into community leaders again after a few years. The sad part is that they are unable to do a good job in either role. They are often referred as “jokers”, with very limited vision, impact and relevance. What a waste of space they are.

Many “leaders” are into things, which have nothing to do with community interests. Some examples are;

1. Contesting elections for MP seats or Council seats, while holding positions in their community associations, which, by rule, are non-political organizations. In 2016, three community “leaders” did exactly this in Chifley, Cumberland and Parramatta area. Whether they had ability or not is a separate matter, but their dismal performance in the elections is an indicator of their worth as political candidates. All these leaders lost badly and the Chifley candidate brought down the two-Party preferred vote for his party by 10% compared to the same vote 3 years earlier. This gentleman is now promoting himself as a candidate for the Upper House of NSW Parliament, ignoring the basic fact that he has not done much to deserve any such position.

2. Calling yourself an “independent” candidate, when you are a card carrying member of a political party is a new low. People are not fools. They saw through this game and refused to support this type of “independent” candidates during last Council elections.

3. You put pictures of top leaders in your event posters, without these leaders’ approval and without a guarantee that they would be attending your event. This is not only a false advertising, but it’s also unethical.

4.. Raising money purportedly to help the family of a deceased, but without establishing the need for financial help from the family before collecting the funds is idiotic. It’s worse, when they don’t return the money to the donors, after knowing that family doesn’t need the money. This is clearly illegal and wrong. Using pics of the deceased in your fundraising posters is not an acceptable behavior.

5. Lying and falsely claiming something, which you are not and haven’t done are your standard operating procedure, thinking people are fools and wouldn’t know about it. Claiming that you have been the president of an association more than 14 months before you actually were elected is despicable behavior.

6. Not doing any AGM for 4 years and not presenting financial reports to the members and Department of Fair Trading, while roaming around looking important as community leaders is another example of unacceptable behavior. Thanks to some good Gujarati community members, who brought this out in the public.

7. Allowing close family members as part of the executive committee and ignoring the concept of conflict of interest, and receiving membership fees into the personal accounts of the leaders, instead of the official account of the association was brought out recently by good community members like Amit Vyas.

8. Not having any idea or understanding about ethical behavior & governance, as is the case with some associations and community leaders.

9. Swindling and “wasting” of hundreds of thousands of your association’s funds, without any accountability, and getting away from the misdeed because the co-leaders (board members) are braindead and grossly incompetent. I myself resigned from one such association, when the executive committee (EC) would not answer the question about spending of $35000 for an overseas artist without the approval of the board, when the constitution of that association mandated prior approval of the Board for anything more than $1000.

10. Holding leadership position in community associations, while all you do is substandard activities and getting exposed by national Media is a new and worrying trend. ABC Four Corners report “Holy Cash Cow” is a burning example. An “hero” in this story is today a community leader.

11. There are some community leaders, who sell Visa sponsorships. They take $50K for sponsoring a visa. This is an illegal activity. It’s a crime in Australia to seek benefit (cash or kind) for sponsoring a visa. It is punishable with up to 2 years prison term and up to $300K fine. It appears that this illegal activity is the only business for some of the community leaders. The fraud is compounded by these con men by appearing to be “connected” and influential as a result of being seen in pics with top political leaders like ministers, Premiers and Prime Minister. As we know, having pics with Chief Ministers (Premiers) and Prime Minister in India is very difficult and is generally taken as an indicator of influence and being highly connected.

12. Some associations and community leaders have given, and still give, “role model of the community” awards to scammers and fraudsters. This they do after getting some money from the scammers. One so-called big association gave “excellence in community service” award to a thug, who took $50,000/person from three women for 457 sponsorships from his restaurant in Penrith. These women had contacted many of us. After hearing about this “excellence in community service” award to this thug, who only does this type of substandard activities, we contacted the president of this so-called big association, seeking a meeting, but he didn’t do anything and didn’t meet. Things are very frustrating and upsetting.There is a need for reflection matched with commensurate action here.

13. There is an “award giving” business in our community. Awards are often given to undeserving people, without proper scrutiny and after payments of some fees for these awards.

14. As if this was not depressing enough, we have a few without any shred of ability, community work or network in the community, who aspire to become an MP or MLC, only because they have a close proximity with a Minister (s), who is/are promoting them, ignoring the objective criteria of ability and capacity, which some others clearly have.

15. I was horrified and shocked to hear from a senior politician recently that one Councillor in Sydney from a particular political party made or tried to make money/benefits, using the position in the the Council. Thankfully, the political party dealt with that matter in the best possible manner, without exposing themselves in the media. Hilariously, this person still dreams to be a big “leader”, which is far from the reality. A classical example of substandard integrity and poor credentials for political positions, but clouded judgement due to low IQ!

16. Consulate is no less responsible for the madness in our community either. Instead of updating the list of invitees, they keep inviting past leaders, who have ceased to be the current leaders. In their recent Independence Day reception, they had 9 useless “leaders” from a failing group, most of whom were past office beaters and even included their honorary solicitor. One wonders, whether Consulate is in the business of propping up unproductive and “waste of space” so-called leaders in the community to maintain a useless army of community leaders.

Our community needs to look into community associations and should start asking questions from community leaders and community associations. We must make them accountable. We mustn’t allow such community “leaders” to damage the name and reputation of our community.

We know that the vast majority in our community is that of decent and upright people, but we also know that a minuscule minority is capable of killing our reputation and good standing in front of the broader community.

Before it’s misconstrued that my post is painting all associations and community leaders with the same brush, let me make it very clear. My intention is not to condemn all associations and people running them, because I know that many are doing wonderful work. I admire them and am grateful to them. What I am concerned about is the growing number of selfish, self-seeking and unethical (some are corrupt) people, masquerading as community leaders, who are dragging us all down.

All I am agitating for is that good people, with ability, capacity and value system, are the ones, who should be in community leadership and should be the ones, who should be getting political positions. It’s applicable to both major parties. Anything to the contrary is not good for our community’s interests or wellbeing.

Dr Yadu Singh