KUALA LUMPUR: Kedah’s decision to declare that Thaipusam will not be a public holiday due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) has been criticised due to its “shortsightedness”.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor had clearly displayed his ignorance and bias towards Hindus with his decision that the holiday will not be observed in the state.
“I realise that the Thaipusam holiday is a state prerogative unlike other national public holidays but coming out with such a ruling shows the arrogance of the Pas-led government in Kedah.”
He said the rationale for the decision did not make sense and it was unacceptable.
Yesterday, Sanusi announced the no public holiday for Thaipusam decision as all activities for the religious festival have been cancelled due to the MCO.
He had said that since there would be no celebrations in temples this year, there would be no public holiday.
Although temple celebrations have been cancelled nationwide, other states that have declared Thaipusam as a public holiday, have not rescinded the holiday.
Saravanan said in a statement that Kedah’s move to base the decision on the fact that Hindus were not allowed to gather at temples for the festival due to the Covid-19 pandemic was unacceptable.
“This year, we would be celebrating many festivals, so is the Kedah Menteri Besar going declare that we won’t be having any public holidays because of the pandemic?
“The pandemic began in early 2020 and the federal government throughout the year had never revoked any public holiday allotted for any festival just because we had a pandemic on our hands.”
He said people continued to celebrate their festivals through various unique ways while minimising close contact and this year it would be the same.
Saravanan, who is also MIC deputy president, said the ruling Perikatan Nasional government was made up of various parties and Sanusi should remember that his party Pas was also a member of the coalition.
He said any such decision should be discussed with the Indian representatives in the federal government, which is the MIC.
“I can vouch that MIC was never consulted on this move as the party would not have allowed for such a decision to be implemented.”
He added that Malaysian Hindus were clearly upset and disturbed with the announcement as it was a festival based on the Hindu calendar.
“Just because we cannot go to the temple, it does not mean we cannot celebrate it at home.
“Furthermore, Thaipusam is not about visiting friends and family but a day to devote our time for Lord Muruga through prayers and paying of penance.”
He said people could still carry on with their prayers at home and do the necessary to fulfil their vows.
Saravanan said the Kedah government should realise that there are state assembly seats which have a sizeable Indian electorate and this move would definitely cause anger and frustration among them.
“The move by the Kedah Menteri Besar will also hurt the ruling coalition at the General Election in the future as this wound would be hard to heal,” he added.- NST