By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |
Kedah is sticking to its decision to drop Thaipusam from the public holiday calendar for this year, with Covid-19 as the excuse.
Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has ignored pleas from various religious and other organisations to allow the state holiday for the Hindu celebration to stay on its calendar.
In a press statement dated 6 Feb signed by Kedah state secretary, it was announced that Thaipusam would not be declared as a public holiday (cuti peristiwa) as it fell on a Saturday. Kedah observes the weekend holidays on Friday and Saturday.
Thaipusam is a public holiday tomorrow (28 Jan) in Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perak, Putrajaya and Selangor.
In a statement last week, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) ‘strongly’ urged the state to reinstate the Thaipusam holiday in the state by respecting the freedom of religion as protected by the Federal Constitution.
“MCCBCHST stresses that there is no place for religious repression which is against the fundamental rights of non-Muslims guaranteed to all persons by Articles 5-13 of the Federal Constitution. Thaipusam is a religious event celebrated by Hindus throughout the world and in Malaysia annually.
“As the majority of Indians in Malaysia are Hindus, Thaipusam celebration, therefore, has been proclaimed as a public holiday in the states with a high concentration of Hindus. This was also practiced in the state of Kedah since 2014 when Thaipusam was proclaimed as cuti peristiwa,” it said.
The statement noted that the reasons given by the Kedah state chief for not renewing the holiday was ‘unacceptable and show a failure to embrace religious sensitivity in a multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia’.
In separate statements, Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) and Gerakan Belia Sikh Malaysia (GBSM) had also called on the state to reinstate the Thaipusam holiday.
YBAM called on Kedah state government to treat every citizen fairly regardless of religion or race.
“Politicians should not misuse special holiday as a political tool on their beck and call, without taking the significance of the holiday to specific religious group seriously. None of the ethnic group in our country is second-class citizen, therefore existing holidays for religious festivals should not be regarded as a gift of extravagance,” it said in the statement.
For my fellow Malaysians of Hindu faith (Asia Samachar, 25 Jan 2021)