PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Mah Siew Keong does not want to be drawn into a public spat with Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy over the issue of Hindu endowment boards, which he now oversees as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
However, Mah said he would work with Ramasamy on the boards’ issues.
Ramasamy, who chairs the Penang Hindu Endowment Board, was critical of Mah and the Federal government, saying it was an insult for a non-Hindu to oversee the running of the Hindu endowment boards.
Barisan Nasional’s Indian representatives raised no objection with MIC strategy director Datuk S. Vell Paari pointing out that Ramasamy, 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.
Mah, who won the May parliamentary by-election in Teluk Intan, said he had maintained his silence over Ramasamy’s criticism to avoid politicising the issue.
“It is more vital to focus on the issue at hand and contribute to the betterment of the Hindu community,” he told reporters here yesterday.
“The by-laws point out that the minister tables the board’s accounts and (annual) reports in Parliament. I think the chairman of the board should be a Hindu because he runs the day-to-day activities,” said Mah.
“As for me, I do not have executive powers but merely ensure things are run smoothly. So, I think (my appointment) is okay,” he said.
“For instance, Tamil schools are run by Indian headmasters but the (Education) minister does not necessarily need to be an Indian.”
Mah, the Gerakan president, said he would meet Ramasamy, who is Perai assemblyman and Batu Kawan MP, after studying the scope of his portfolio.
Mah’s other duties in the Cabinet are to supervise the Malaysian Innovation Agency, organisations dealing with nuclear energy, the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology (Might), and looking after the welfare of Chinese petty traders and hawkers.