The trouble with the call for Hindu New Year holiday

Do Indians in Malaysia need an extra religious holiday? If there is need, should not there be wider consultation before a suitable date could be determined?

It is strange that the largest segment in the Indian population, the Tamils, have not been consulted at all.

Recently, a memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Department by the Malaysian Hindu Sangam (MHS) along with the endorsement of eight other ethnic and religious groups.

In fact, the representation was more ethnic rather than Hindu in nature. The greatest irony was that the largest ethnic group in the Indian community, Tamils, were not represented.

However, the MHS president Mohan Shan signed off the document as both ‘ketua Tamil’ and ‘ketua Hindu’.

Apart from signing off as ‘ketua Tamil’ not one Tamil group was
represented in the meeting where the memorandum was prepared and later submitted. While the minority sub-ethnics
such as Telegus, Keralites, Gujeratis and Punjabis were represented, the Tamils were left out.

Since the proposal to declare April 14 as an additional national holiday for Hindus, I don’t understand how Mohan Shan can double up as both the leader of Hindus and Tamils.

MHS is merely an NGO, it cannot be regarded as the sole representative of the Hindus in the country. There are many other Hindu organisations that also seek to represent Hindus, even provide a better and more effective representation in comparison to MHS.

Even if MHS pretends to be the representative of the Hindus in Malaysia, it hardly qualifies to represent Tamils in the country. So it is not right for Mohan Shan to sign off the memorandum as the ‘ketua Tamil’.

In fact, I would like to urge Mohan Shan to withdraw the memorandum because he has given a wrong or false information to the Prime Minister’s Department.

I understand that many Tamil and Hindu groups have been extremely upset by the actions of the MHS and particularly its president for misrepresenting them and asking for holiday without proper consultation.

If April 14 is to be an additional holiday for Hindus, I don’t see why ethnic or sub-ethnic representation was called for determining a Hindu holiday. How come other Hindu organisations were not called in to participate in the meeting before the submission of the memorandum?

Is it because MHS cannot get along with other Hindu organisations in the country or is it because MHS wants to have special relationship with the BN government?

Anyway, an extra public holiday for Hindus cannot be solely determined by inviting the participation of only Indian ethnic groups. It has to be determined by the participation of the representatives of numerous Hindu organisations in the country.

MHS cannot pretend or lie it is the sole representatives of Hindus or Tamils in the country. MHS is strictly a Hindu non-governmental organisation like many others.

Whether it has special relationship with the BN government is something that we can debate.

The is clamour in the last few decades especially from the Tamils for additional holidays for Thaipusam and Ponggal. Some states provide public holiday for Thaipusam but not all.

In fact, the demand for public holiday for Ponggal has been growing. It is strange that MHS president who declared or signed off as ‘ketua Tamil’ seems rather ignorant of the demands of Tamils in declaring Ponggal as a public holiday.

I suppose his religious credentials does not allow him to think along ethnic lines, however, when it comes to having relationship with the government he would mind to state his ethnic or pseudo-ethnic affiliation.

The adoption of April 14 as a Hindu public holiday cannot be determined by the actions of MHS or with the support of eight ethnic groups. The general Hindu public remains unconvinced by the arguments of MHS.

In fact, many Hindu organisations were not even consulted whether

April 14 is a suitable date or not. What is more, Tamils in the country who constitute more than 85% of the Indian population are completely in the dark regarding the proposed date for a Hindu national holiday.

MHS might call itself as both Tamil and Hindu, but it does not represent both.

Tamils who have slogged and sweated for the development of the country will not allow themselves to be taken for a long ride by the actions of few individuals and groups.

Let there be a wider and more comprehensive discussion among religious groups and ethnic groups as what constitutes an additional holiday for them.

Lastly, sorry to say, MHS does not represent Malaysian Hindus or Tamils. It might have a special relationship with the government in power, but such a relationship is based on sycophancy.

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