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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — MIC deputy president Datuk Seri M. Saravanan has hit out at Kedah Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor for declaring that the state will not observe Thaipusam as a cuti peristiwa or holiday this year, citing the Covid-19 pandemic as justification.
He accused the PAS leader of being biased and ignorant towards Hindus.
Saravanan, who is also Human Resources minister, claimed that Sanusi’s reason for Kedah to not observe Thaipusam as a public holiday — because social gatherings are prohibited during the movement control order (MCO) — is completely unacceptable as the event is religious in nature.
“The PAS-government in Kedah must realise that there are state assembly seats in the state which have a sizable Indian/Hindu electorate and this move will definitely cause anger and frustration among Hindus in the state.
“This year, we will be celebrating many festivals, so is the Kedah mentri besar going to declare that we won’t be having any public holidays because of the pandemic?” he asked in a statement last night.
He pointed out that just because mass gatherings at houses of worship are not allowed under the MCO did not mean that the faithful cannot celebrate religious events 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,” Saravanan said.
He added that the federal government has never revoked any public holidays for any community ever since Covid-19 started spreading in Malaysia last year.
He also said any decision that relates to the Hindu community must be consulted with the Indian representative in the federal government, in this case, MIC.
“I can vouch that MIC was never consulted on this move as MIC would not have allowed for such a decision to be implemented,” he said.
Saravanan then reminded Sanusi that PAS is a component party of the ruling Perikatan Nasional and that its decision will affect the coalition as whole.
News portals Free Malaysia Today and PAS-owned Harakah daily reported Sanusi telling reporters in Alor Setar yesterday that Thaipusam will not be marked as a cuti peristiwa in Kedah due to the MCO.
“There is no cuti peristiwa. Since there is no celebration this year, there will be no public holiday,” he was quoted saying by Free Malaysia Today at Wisma Darul Aman yesterday.
Sanusi reiterated the Covid-19 regulations barring large public gatherings, including in temples where only one-third of the congregation will be allowed entry for worship.
He added that the same will apply for Chinese New Year celebrations coming next month.
Cuti peristiwa is a holiday to mark an event and is usually commemorated as a public holiday in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
The Pakatan Harapan Penang government has cancelled the annual chariot processions for Thaipusam after the state became a Covid-19 hotspot, but not the holiday itself.