KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — The Tamil community in Malaysia has managed to safeguard its culture, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today amid a spate of vandalism cases in Hindu temples in several states.
The prime minister highlighted Tamil education and media like Tamil language newspapers and a radio station in the country, and said there are 524 Tamil primary schools.
He further noted that the language and Tamil literature are taught at secondary schools, and such subjects can also be studied at public universities.
"I am proud to say that the Tamil community in Malaysia has successfully safeguarded their language and culture," Najib said in a speech at the World Kongu Tamilar Conference at Stadium Negara organised by the Malaysia Kongu Tamilar Association that represents the community here.
"We (India and Malaysia) have a close cultural affinity and are both countries that wish to guard our social traditions and customs while pursuing greater economic growth and social cohesion.
"And, of course, the Indian community has a long and important history here in Malaysia in helping build our young nation, and in contributing to the diversity and variety that is our strength and makes us unique," he added.
Najib's comments come after statues of deities at several Hindu temples in Penang, Perak, Kedah and last Wednesday in Petaling Jaya were recently found smashed. Some of the temples are believed to be more than a century old.
Penang police have set up a special task force to investigate the desecration of four temples in the state over the last two months, with national news wire Bernama reporting recently that the cases are being investigated under Section 295 of the Penal Code for defiling a place of worship with the intent of insulting a religion.