Well, that named association with the shihan from New York is verily more active then the officially recognised aikikai association. For better or worst, thats the truth of it. They have more members, they do more international seminars and they get things done. And its not closed... I've joined that seminar and i enjoyed learning from Sugano sensei although its different in style. There were hundreds of ppl there, but he still managed to mingle and I got the chance to take uke for him. I appreciate that. The instructors in that association are also long standing Aikikai instructors here.
As regards to the shihan only giving some 1 or 2 seminars a year, it doesn't detract much from what's happening right now with the present Malaysian Aikikai HQ and its affliated dojos. So I see no difference at all.
I think one of the reason why some dojos choose to become independant is because they want to do stuff that the head of the group doesn't want. Like hold more seminars maybe (with outside senseis invited), or do more camps with a lot less red tape. Aikikai Malaysia's been around for a long time now, I've not attended a single camp/seminar sponsored by it at all. Because there's been none. Anything at all has been organised by dojo's independantly.
If I'm not mistaken, whenever Yoshinkan malaysia opens up a new dojo, they get sponsored somewhat by the Japan HQ. I'm not dicing this, I think its great. It shows that your efforts are regarded.
If you want a united association, then that association has to mean something to its members. Maybe if you want to gather us all 'indies' out there, a good way is to have the HQ sponsor say... instructors classes, joint dojo sessions, monthly visits, etc etc. As HQ, the responsibility is greater and its to serve all its members not just its dojo members or serve out the black belts.
My last post "All i can say is, i don't see any changes in my aikido style." If what I was doing was 'Aikikai Aikido' previously, and if I'm no longer from an 'Aikikai Dojo' then my aikido would probably be 'Aikido Formerly Known As Aikikai Aikido' or AFKAAA for short.