Friday, April 22, 2011

Cheng continues to draw flak over holiday proposal

The proposal to cancel Deepavali and Wesak Day holidays is still hitting a raw nerve with politicians despite a reported denial by William Cheng.

GEORGE TOWN: Two Barisan Nasional local leaders have demanded a public apology from a Chinese business leader for stirring racial sentiments by suggesting the cancellation of public holidays for Deepavali and Wesak Day celebrations.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce chairman William Cheng drew flak from Penang MIC youth wing chief J Dhinagaran and Penang Gerakan’s legal and human rights bureau head Baljit Singh over his alleged statement.

Dhinagaran slammed Cheng for insulting the minority groups in the country as if “they are insignificant and irrelevant for nation building.”

“The public holidays reflect the government’s multi racial policy.

“Cheng is obviously undermining it and showing a total disrespect for the contributions made by minorities to the country’s growth thus far.

“He owes minorities an immediate public apology,” insisted Dhinagaran, who’s also the MIC national youth treasurer.

This was concurred by Baljit, who added that Cheng was definitely not representing the general view of majority Malaysian Chinese.

He slammed Cheng for allegedly disgracing his own community as if suggesting that the “Chinese were money faced people.”

“Cheng should have been tactful because it involved religious sentiments of Malaysians.

“He seems to suggest a public holiday should only be given if the event was economically vibrant,” he said.

Why Deepavali and Wesak Day?

He said he could not understand why Cheng was singling out only Deepavali and Wesak Day celebrations when there were many other unnecessary public holidays.

Baljit, who is a Sikh, reminded Cheng even though Hindus and Buddhists were minorities, they too play a pivotal role in shaping the political and socio-economic landscapes in the country.

In another statement, DAP’s national vice-chairman M Kula Sagaran also lashed out at Cheng over his proposal.

“While it is fair and right for businessmen and employers to put productivity as their first priority, they must not think of robbing the Hindus and Buddhists of the two public holidays,” he said.

He added that Cheng should have instead complained of the last-minute declaration of public holidays by the government.

Parroting Umno’s views

In an interview with a vernacular newspaper last week, Cheng has purportedly called on the government to consider cancelling public holidays for Deepavali and Wesak Day because the festivals were not celebrated by majority Malaysians.

He complained that the country had too many holidays and that these were affecting the economy.

His suggestions drew criticism from various quarters, including MIC publicity and communication chief S Vell Paari, former president of Malaysia Hindu Sangam A Vaithilingam and commentators in portal mails, blogs and social network Facebook.

Some blasted Cheng for being racist and intolerant, while others chided him of being a greedy businessman with a motto of “money, money and make more money.”

Several commentators alleged that Cheng could well be parroting racist views of certain elements in ruling party, Umno.

Cheng, as quoted in a Tamil daily yesterday, denied making such a call.