GEORGE TOWN: With Thaipusam being cancelled in Penang and other states, the National Security Council's (NSC) decision to allow the chariot procession in Batu Caves has drawn the ire of a lawmaker here.
Penang Deputy Chief Minister ll Dr P. Ramasamy (pic) claimed the NSC's decision was irresponsible and smacks of double standards with total disregard for views from the state.
"Penang was the first to announce the cancellation of the Thaipusam festival and chariot procession followed by Selangor and other states, even before the decision was made by the NSC.
"But all of a sudden, with less than a week to go for Thaipusam, the NSC has made an about turn on the chariot procession matter," said Ramasamy in his Facebook post on Sunday (Jan 24).
He said the NSC has made an exception for the chariot procession from the Sri Maha Mariamman Dhevasthanam in Jalan Tun HS Lee to the Batu Caves temple on Jan 27, with only 10 devotees allowed to follow the procession.
"Why the double standard, allowing a chariot procession for the Batu Caves temple but not for other temples," asked Ramasamy.
He said if the NSC expects the people in this country to take the pandemic seriously, then it must be seen to be as a serious and responsible agency.
“Unlike the NSC, the Penang government under the Penang Hindu Endowment Board took very strict measures in cancelling the Thaipusam events," he said.
Penang had cancelled prayers in the temples, chariot procession, different forms of kavadis, mass haircut, coconut breaking and disallowed installation of panthals and stalls.
Since Thaipusam spans over three days, prayers have been barred but confined to temple committees only, with the Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple here making plans to live telecast the prayers.
"With the rise in Covid-19 cases, social and religious events must be controlled or regulated and exceptions cannot be allowed here and there, giving an impression that we are not serious in flattening the pandemic curve.
"Such an irresponsible attitude is not going to help in the containment of the pandemic and just because Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Annuar Musa made a special appeal on behalf of the Batu Caves Temple committee, it's still not too late in rescinding the directive," Ramasamy added.
In a tweet on Saturday night (Jan 23), Annuar said the NSC has approved the Thaipusam chariot procession which will bring the deity of Lord Muruga to the Batu Caves Hindu temple under strict conditions monitored by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.
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