PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mah Siew Keong has described his duty to oversee the Hindu Endowment Board as a testament to Gerakan’s credentials as a “Malaysian party”.
This came in the wake of criticism by an Opposition leader who termed his appointment as an “insult” to Hindus as this meant that there were no eligible Hindus for the job.
Mah, who is Gerakan president, said he was proud to be given the opportunity to serve the Indian and Hindu community.
“I am ready to serve to the best of my ability in this newly assigned duty to take care of the community’s welfare and endowments in line with the 1Malaysia concept that promotes inter-racial harmony and unity.
“Furthermore, this appointment is a testament to Gerakan’s multi-racial and multi-religious commitment to governance and reinforces its credentials as a Malaysian party,” he said in a statement here yesterday.
Under his new portfolio, Mah had been tasked to oversee the Hindu Endowment Board, which looks into matters of land, burial grounds and funds for the Hindu community.
Mah said he was also excited to be tasked with several ministerial duties, including overseeing the Innovation Unit (Unik) to promote innovation in the country, especially in ensuring good governance.
He will also oversee organisations dealing with nuclear energy and the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology (Might) as well as the welfare of Chinese petty traders and hawkers.
Penang Hindu Endowment Board chairman P. Ramasamy had earlier said that letting Mah oversee the board was an “insult” to Hindus as this meant that there was no eligible Hindu for the job.
However, MIC strategic director Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari said he had no problems with Mah’s appointment.
“It must be noted that Hinduism is not exclusive to Indians. It is more than a religion.
“It is a way of life embraced by people of various ethnic backgrounds,” he said.
Although those overseeing the board were usually Hindus, Vell Paari said Malaysia was moving towards an “era of multi-racial politics”, adding that Mah’s ethnicity or faith should not be an issue.
Vell Paari pointed out that Ramasamy, who is also a DAP leader, did not kick up a fuss when the Selangor government appointed PKR representative Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, a Christian, to oversee Hindu temples.