Kedah govt’s move to cancel Thaipusam holiday ‘improper, lacks understanding’, says Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council

PETALING JAYA: The move by Kedah state government not to declare "cuti peristiwa” (occasional holiday) for Thaipusam in the state is improper and lacks understanding, says the Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council (MBCC).

"We are of the opinion that the Kedah state government’s current move is improper, as it shows a lack of understanding," the council said in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 26).

The council added that the move may be seen as being insensitive to the religious practices of a particular faith in the nation's multicultural and multireligious society.

While agreeing against large scale celebrations and mass gatherings in light of the current Covid-19 situation, the council said there could still be low-key or private celebrations to mark the occasion under strict SOP.

"Instead, prayers at home or on a small scale basis to mark this religious occasion in compliance with the new norm and strict standard operating procedures should be encouraged.

"A public holiday would therefore serve to facilitate this and will surely be welcomed and appreciated by the Hindu community of Kedah," the council noted.

The council urged the Kedah state government to reconsider its decision to cancel the holiday of Thaipusam.

"It will be a laudable measure of goodwill and respect for the religious observances and practices of all faiths, underscoring the unity in diversity that has been the core strength of our beloved country that will turn 64 come August this year," the council added.

MBCC represents six major Buddhist national organisations.

On Thursday (Jan 21), Kedah Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said that the festival would not be marked as “cuti peristiwa” (occasional holiday) since there was no celebration of the annual festival this year.

Sanusi's announcement had drawn criticism from several quarters.

Kedah has observed Thaipusam as an occasional holiday since 2014.

The then-menteri besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir had declared it a holiday after he received consent from then-sultan, the late Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.

The holiday has since been observed in the state until 2019.

In 2020, Thaipusam was not observed as an occasional holiday, as it fell on a Saturday.

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