NSC had the final say on Thaipusam SOP, says Saravanan

PETALING JAYA: The decision on the current Thaipusam standard operating procedure (SOP) did not solely depend on suggestions from ministers, says Datuk Seri M. Saravanan.

The MIC deputy president said he and National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique had only forwarded the proposed SOP to the Quartet Ministers’ Meeting on Covid-19.

The finalised SOP was decided by the National Security Council (NSC) and Health Ministry.

Saravanan, who is also Human Resources Minister, said he was disheartened by comments from some quarters of the Indian community claiming he did not deliver their message to the government.

“I am disappointed to see the reaction from the Indian community putting the blame on me with regard to the Thaipusam SOP,” he said in response to the allegations on social media.

“Some even asked why shopping malls and night markets were permitted to operate fully but not Batu Caves,” he said, adding that the concerns should be addressed as they were equally important.

Saravanan was speaking at a press conference together with Halimah at Batu Caves yesterday after the launch of the Thaipusam celebrations at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple.

Halimah said the ministry could only submit the proposed SOP to the Quartet Ministers’ Meeting but was not empowered to give the approval.

“When we were told to submit the proposed Thaipusam SOP in December, we were advised to hold talks with temple chairmen nationwide, which we did, and the findings were the final SOP proposed to the NSC,” she added.

She said the existing SOP for non- Muslim houses of worship would take effect again on Jan 20, after the SOP for Thaipusam ends today.According to Saravanan, despite the Indian community not being entirely happy with the SOP, the devotees showed great compliance with the guidelines yesterday.

He also conveyed his gratitude to Halimah and her ministry, as well as the authorities that had been working to keep the compliance in place.

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