No need for PM to wear garlands during Thaipusam, Perlis mufti says

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (centre) waves to the crowd during the Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves, on February 3, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (centre) waves to the crowd during the Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves, on February 3, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 6 ― The prime minister should forego traditional Indian costumes and come in a suit for the Hindus’ annual Thaipusam celebrations as it is more appropriate, Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has said.

Mohd Asri reportedly suggested the prime minister’s advisers to tell the Thaipusam celebrations’ organisers that they do not have to gift him with garlands or ask the leader to wear traditional Indian costumes as his presence was more significant.

“Najib can come wearing a suit. It’s not wrong to be dressed like that. The important thing is that Najib celebrates the religious programme of Hindus because he is the Prime Minister of Malaysia and looks out for the interests of all Malaysians,” he was quoted telling Sinar Harian in an interview published today, referring to Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Mohd Asri, who just stepped back into his role as Perlis mufti this Monday, also said that the prime minister could join in the celebrations of non-Muslim religious events, but cautioned that he should steer clear of being seen as actively observing these religious events.

“Prime Minister can go to celebrate religious events of other races but not to the extent of joining in the programmes until it is seen as becoming part of them,” he told the local paper, adding that the national leader could go straight to the stage and deliver speeches on interfaith harmony in such events.

Mohd Asri reportedly said that it would be against Islam for the prime minister to join in religious events, adding that the leader’s officials need to firmly inform organisers that he could not participate in their events as he is a Muslim.

“They have to be firm in this matter and inform the Thaipusam organisers at Batu Caves that Najib can attend with the condition that (he) cannot take part in any form of religious events by Hindus,” he was quoted saying, explaining that there must be limits although Muslim leaders are not prohibited by Islam from attending non-Muslim religious programmes.

It is not clear why Mohd Asri gave the piece of advice on participating directly in religious events, as no reports of Najib doing so during Thaipusam has appeared.

In news reports on the Thaipusam celebrations on Tuesday, Najib was merely said to have witnessed the celebrations at Batu Caves.

The Sun reported that Najib had greeted the crowd from a temple building’s balcony, before walking about to visit stores and greet the public.

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