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Selfish to organise celebration during pandemic: PHEB

George Town – The Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) is sticking to its decision to disallow the Thaipusam chariot procession despite certain groups demanding it.

PHEB chairman, Prof Dr P. Ramasamy, said the decision was made jointly by the National Security Council (MKN), health department and Nattukotai Chettiar Temple representatives at a meeting three weeks ago.

“We don’t want to cancel, but our paramount concern is the public’s health. We must be serious in handling this pandemic because COVID-19 is a life and death issue.

“It has caused a lot of businesses to shut down and people losing their jobs. We need to flatten the curve. It would be selfish to organise a celebration during this pandemic,” he told a press conference today.

Ramasamy, who is also Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, said the issue resurfaced after the MKN approved the Batu Caves chariot procession which led to other temples, like the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple, demanding it as well.

He said the temple wrote Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow yesterday to allow the silver chariot procession to be held.

“The state exco will discuss their appeal and make a decision tomorrow.

“Personally, I do not agree because if the silver chariot is allowed, then the golden chariot will want to be allowed, too. Then those in Perak, Kedah, Johor and the other temples in Selangor may also want it to be allowed,” he said.

On a linked subject, Ramasamy said the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple will be streaming Thaipusam prayers and pooja via Astro, Facebook and Youtube to enable devotees to join in from their homes.

On Sunday (Jan 24), the Federal Territories Minister, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, announced that the MKN would allow the chariot carrying the statue of Lord Murugan to travel to Batu Caves without a procession.

He said only 10 people will be permitted to accompany the chariot compared to the crowds in previous years. – Bernama

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