PAS’ non-Muslim wing has come to the defence of Kedah’s decision not to declare an occasional holiday for the Thaipusam festival in the state, saying it is the state government’s right to decide on such matters based on the current situation.
Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor had earlier said that as all Thaipusam-related gatherings are banned due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there would be no day off as had been the case in the last two years.
The move drew criticism from Hindu politicians, including Human Resources Minister M Saravanan.
But Dr G Balachandran, the information chief for the PAS Supporters Wing – seen as the voice of the non-Muslims in the Islamist party – said he failed to see the fuss over the matter.
“I don’t see where the Kedah MB is wrong. The decision took into account the current situation and movement control order, everyone should take precautions and stay indoors,” he told MalaysiaNow.
He rejected accusations of PAS as intolerant, saying there are factual and legal issues involved in the decision.
Sanusi has since said that there is no ban on Hindus in the state celebrating Thaipusam as long as health SOPs are followed.
“All this while, Kedah has never observed a holiday for Thaipusam other than in the past two years, and it is not a state public holiday,” he said in a statement.
Thaipusam has been declared as a state holiday in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Perak, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya since 2008.
Balachandran said an occasional holiday is not the same as a public holiday.
“It is up to the state government to decide on occasional holidays. So when gatherings are not allowed during the MCO, one can perform the rituals at home.
“When people are at home, there is no need for a holiday,” he added.