THE coming Thaipusam festival on Feb 3 is expected to be bigger and better this year.
Deputy Chief Minister ll Dr P. Ramasamy said a record 1.2 million crowd was expected to converge on the island since it would be a public holiday in Kedah too.
“We have received excellent support from relevant agencies and the private sector. We want to have an ‘incident free’ Thaipusam in view of the large crowd expected this year,” he told newsmen at a press conference in Komtar yesterday.
Dr Ramasamy, who is also the chairman of the Penang Hindu Endowment Board, said there would be 1,000 police personnel deployed during the festival.
Rapid Penang would provide free shuttle service from 5am on Feb 2 to 2am the next day.
“The Penang Hospital and Pantai Medical Centre have also agreed to provide 24-hour free ambulance services for two days from Feb 2,” he added.
He urged the public to abide by the guidelines and rules set by the Balathandayuthabani Hilltop Temple particularly on the alcohol- free zones and parking of vehicles for a smooth running of the festival.
Hilltop Temple Committee chairman R. Subramaniam who was at the press conference said the hawker centres and outlets including the Waterfall Hotel had agreed to their request not to serve alcohol to the public.
“The number of stalls has increased to 150 compared to 137 last year.
“The procession route remains the same. It will start from 5am on Feb 2 and is expected to reach the Hilltop Temple at around 11pm,” said Subramaniam.
He cautioned the public from parking their cars in Lorong Air Terjun, which would be the road used by the police and ambulance during an emergency.
He said any vehicles found parked along the road would be towed away by the Penang Municipal Council.
Car stickers for the residents in the area will be issued on Jan 28.
He urged the public to maintain the cleanliness at the temple by not throwing rubbish indiscriminately.
Subramaniam added that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Dr Ramasamy would be walking from Macalister Road to the Hilltop Temple at 5pm on Feb 2.