'Illogical!' - Kedah MB receives sustained battering over Thaipusam holiday cancellation

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'Illogical!' - Kedah MB receives sustained battering over Thaipusam holiday cancellation
'Illogical!' - Kedah MB receives sustained battering over Thaipusam holiday cancellation

The pressure is not letting up on Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Mohd Nor for his decision to cancel the state's public holiday on Jan 28 in conjunction with Thaipusam.

After bearing the brunt of critical remarks from MIC leaders M Saravanan and S Vell Paari, Sanusi has now been taken to task by Kedah MIC Youth chief Jeevabalan Jayaraman who said that the decision was insensitive to the Indian community in Kedah.

"Thaipusam is an event holiday for the states of Kedah, Penang and Selangor. However, the states did not cancel the holiday just because a celebration ban was also imposed in the states.

"Even though the country is currently implementing a movement control order (MCO) this does not mean that Thaipusam cannot be observed at home with family members.

"Thaipusam Day is not focused on visiting friends or family members but more on performing prayers and fulfilling vows," he said in a media statement today.

Taking to social media, Bandar Baharu Kulim MP Saifuddin Nasution also blasted the Kedah state government saying it's decision defied logic.

"The reason given for not having a holiday is to curb the spread of Covid-10 but if they had just cancelled celebrations while maintaining a public holiday then devotees would spend time at home with their families.

"But if the holiday itself is cancelled, it means that employees have to enter the office and students who sit for important exams need to attend school.

"Which is less risky?" asked Saifuddin who is also PKR secretary-general.

"Thaipusam is an important religious event for the Hindu community in our country. They are also Malaysians and their contribution is huge to the country. What is wrong if recognition is given to appreciate their contribution?" he added.

Yang paling mengelirukan bab Kerajaan Kedah batal cuti peristiwa Thaipusam tahun ini ialah....Alasan yang diberikan...

Posted by Saifuddin Nasution Ismail on Thursday, January 21, 2021

First introduced in 2014

Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip, also known as Nurin Aina, said that it would not be a loss for the Kedah government to have a public holiday for Thaipusam.

"It should remain a traditional religious festival day and a holiday in honour of cultural reciprocity while devotees make sure to stay safe at home," she said.

She said Thaipusam was first declared as a public holiday by former Kedah MB Mukhriz Mahathir in 2014 after he obtaining the consent of then Kedah Sultan Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah.

The tradition entered its seventh year despite the change of state government from BN to Pakatan Harapan in 2018 without any hiccups, said Nurin Aina.

A third PKR MP, P Prabakaran said that Sanusi should be condemned for his attitude.

"This is not in the spirit of unity we desire from a leader in a country with a population of various cultures and religions.

"Sanusi lacks understanding of religious sentiments and knowledge about religious ceremonies of various religions and races," he said in a statement.

"Canceling the holiday on the grounds that there is no religious event means that the Kedah MB does not understand the meaning of Thaipusam and is not sensitive to the religious ceremonies of other races in this country.

"PAS has shown that it is not a suitable party to lead in this plural country. They lack the understanding of a plural and multiracial society," said the Batu MP.

Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip
Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip

Yesterday, MIC deputy president Saravanan urged the PAS leadership to "educate" Sanusi on how to govern a state in a multi-cultural nation.

He said MIC and PAS have always enjoyed cordial relations but Sanusi’s actions are testing those ties.

“I sincerely hope that the PAS leadership will educate him on how to lead in a multi-racial and multi-religious country like Malaysia.

“A menteri besar should be a leader for all races in the state and not trample on the rights of other races for the sake of popularity,” he said in a statement today.

While Sanusi had told MIC to lobby the federal government to gazette Thaipusam as a national holiday, Saravanan said Sanusi’s response was "amateurish" because he should realise this would be a time-consuming process.

MIC senator S Vell Paari went on to accuse Sanusi of trying to "settle the score" over criticism the menteri besar previously received for the demolition of Hindu temples in the state.

The current furore erupted after Sanusi announced that the public holiday would be cancelled although religious events for the occasion are still allowed under the MCO with strict conditions.

The decision to nix the holiday has courted flak from MIC, Pakatan Harapan and even former Umno president Najib Abdul Razak.

In response to criticism, Sanusi said the move is not meant to sideline Hindus and the MIC should lobby for the federal government to make it a national holiday.

Prior to this, Sanusi had been accused of being anti-Hindu by critics, after the PAS state government demolished two Hindu temples.

He had also hit back at critics then, saying they should not be "drunk on the toddy of popularity".

However, he denied the remarks were racist but were instead metaphorical and proverbial.

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