[New Straits Times] 'Kedah MB's cancellation of Thaipusam holiday disrespectful, irrational'
Friday, January 22, 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor disrespected the rights of minorities in this country when he announced the cancellation of this year's Thaipusam public holiday (cuti peristiwa) in the state, MCA vice-president Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said.

In a statement today, Tan said Sanusi's decision to use the Movement Control Order 2.0 (MCO) as an excuse is illogical and confusing to the minority races in this country.

"Everyone from different races and religions should be able to celebrate their own holidays, just that in light of the pandemic, everyone needs to adapt to the new norm by not holding big celebrations or be in crowded spaces.

"But why cancel the Thaipusam public holiday? Cancelling the celebration and cancelling the public holiday are two very different things by definition.

"Does this mean that the Hindus can't celebrate this important day even at home where they adhere to all standard operating procedures (SOP)?

"No doubt that Sanusi's action has damaged the spirit of mutual respect and inclusiveness that has been forged over the years," he said.

MCA spokesperson Mike Chong Yew Chuan also aired a similar view in a statement, saying Sanusi has violated the rights of the minority in this country to celebrate important days in their religions and cultures.

"MCA could not accept such reasoning. If we follow Sanusi's logic, will it be reasonable to cancel the Hari Merdeka celebration too? This kind of thinking is confusing and disappoints Malaysians.

"Apart from that, Sanusi's announcement has also hurt the feelings of the Hindus because it looks like their celebrations, traditions and cultures are being disrespected," he said.

Chong also slammed Sanusi for accusing MIC of politicising this issue, saying it was the MB who has confused the public by making such a decision.

"As a party that represents the Chinese in Malaysia, MCA will take the same stance as MIC because we believe this is to do with the rights and interests of all minority races in Malaysia.

"If this excuse used by the Kedah MB to cancel the Thaipusam public holiday is allowed, MCA is worried that the same reason could be used to cancel many other celebrations by minorities in this country and MCA will not be silenced on this issue," he said.

Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) co-president Gan Ping Sieu urged the Kedah state government to reinstate Thaipusam as a public holiday, adding that despite Covid-19, such a celebration should be allowed to proceed, but with strict compliance to the SOP.

"We are a multi-ethnic nation that cherishes cultural pluralism. Moderation is an integral part of our way of life.

"The sudden announcement of the cancellation of Thaipusam as a public holiday is an affront to multiculturalism that we celebrate and a sign of intolerance.

"The Kedah government must reconsider such a decision as it is both irrational and wholly disproportionate in the circumstances," he said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Sanusi had announced there would be no public holiday for Thaipusam, as all activities for the religious festival have been cancelled due to the MCO.

He had said 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 its status.

Kedah does not observe Thaipusam as a public holiday, instead if observed, it is recorded as an occasional holiday (cuti peristiwa). The first time Thaipusam was marked as an occasional holiday in Kedah was in 2017 by then MB Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah.

For the record, the state also did not observe Thaipusam as an occasional holiday last year as it fell on a Saturday, as announced by then state secretary Datuk Ammar Shaikh Mahmood Naim.

'Kedah MB's cancellation of Thaipusam holiday disrespectful, irrational' (nst.com.my) 


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