PUTRAJAYA: Newly appointed minister Datuk Mah Siew Keong (pic) has refused to be drawn into a public spat with Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy over his appointment to oversee the Hindu Endowment Board and instead, expressed a willingness to work with the latter.
Mah, who is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said he has maintained his silence over Ramasamy's criticism to avoid politicking the issue.
He emphasised that it was more vital to focus on the issue at hand and contribute to the betterment of the Hindu community.
"The by-laws say 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. As for me, I do not have executive powers but merely ensure things are being run smoothly, so I think (my appointment) is okay.
"For instance, Tamil schools are run by Indian headmasters but the minister does not necessarily need to be an Indian, does he?," Mah told reporters here, Monday.
Ramasamy, who is chairman of the Penang Hindu Endowment Board, had issued two statements criticising Mah’s appointment to date.
Instead of reciprocating with fire, Mah has said he is willing to work closely with Ramasamy and would arrange a meeting with the latter after he has fully studied the scope of his portfolio.
"I forgive him (Ramasamy for his remarks) and I do not wish to respond to the statements.
"I was only appointed into the job a few days ago. Give me a chance and we will discuss the best ways to help the community," Mah said.
Mah was named a Minister in the Prime Minister's Department late last month following Barisan Nasional’s victory in the Teluk Intan by-election in May.Apart from overseeing the Hindu Endowment Board, Mah will also supervise the Malaysian Innovation Agency, organisations dealing with nuclear energy, the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology (Might), and look into the welfare of Chinese petty traders and hawkers.