Saturday, January 22, 2022

No festive processions for Thaipusam, CNY, minister says amid Omicron concerns

National Unity Minister Halimah Mohamed Sadique says SOPs for festive celebrations will go through several committees for approval.

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Festive processions including the kavadi procession for Thaipusam and Chingay for Chinese New Year next year will be prohibited in light of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, National Unity Minister Halimah Mohamed Sadique said today.

“In the application for Thaipusam, the procession is not allowed as we are facing the new (Covid-19) variant.

“Secondly on Chingay, as I have already mentioned, the procession is not allowed for Thaipusam, so whatever forms of procession will also not be allowed and the decision depends on three committees,” she said during the minister’s question time at the Dewan Rakyat.

Halimah was replying to a supplementary question by Steven Choong Shiau Yoon (independent-Tebrau) who wanted to know whether the SOPs for the coming Chinese New Year would allow the Chingay procession.

When replying to the original question by Sivakumar Varatharaju Naidu (PH-Batu Gajah) who wanted to know the SOPs formulated for the Thaipusam celebration on Jan 18, 2022, Halimah said the proposed SOPs for the festivals including Christmas this year would be tabled to three committees for approval in the middle of December.

She said they will be presented to the Pandemic Management Technical Working Group on Dec 13, and later brought to the Quartet Ministers Meeting on Dec 14 before being taken to the Special Committee on Pandemic Management meeting chaired by the prime minister scheduled on Dec 15.

“After receiving the decision of the meetings, a circular on the approved SOPs will be sent to religious leaders and a media statement will be prepared,” she said.

Halimah said for the provision of the Thaipusam SOPs, her ministry had held an engagement session with 10 Hindu religious leaders and representatives of the National Security Council as well as the health ministry on Dec 2.

She said the engagement session was aimed at obtaining detailed information on activities and religious ceremonies suitable for the festival and that through the engagement session, seven matters or religious activities were identified including the operation of stalls subject to the approval of the local authorities.

She said the ministry would hold engagement sessions with the relevant parties for the SOPs of each festival celebrated in the country two months in advance.

“All SOP proposals after the engagement session will be brought to each of the committee meetings stated earlier. As such, there is no problem with providing SOPs for whatever festivals for the Malaysian Family,” she said.

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