Thursday, April 21, 2011

Respect minority religions, Cheng told

KL and Selangor Chinese Chamber chief's call to do away with Deepavali and Wesak day holidays uncalled for, says Hindu Sangam.

KUALA LUMPUR: William Cheng, the chairman of the KL and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce, was criticised for urging the government to remove Deepavali and Wesak Day as public holidays.

“It’s a Hindu’s right to celebrate Deepavali, just like the Chinese their New Year. What does Cheng know or understand about Deepavali? asked Hindu Sangam president RS Mohan Shan.

Recently, in reports carried by Tamil newspapers Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban, Cheng complained about too many public holidays in Malaysia and said they were bad for business.

He then urged the government to remove Deepavali and Wesak Day holidays from the list of public holidays because they were celebrated by minorities.

“It’s not right for him to say that about a religious festival,” said Mohan, who added that out of 17 public holidays, Deepavali was just the one day given to the Hindu community.

His sentiments were echoed by Reverend Thomas Philips, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST).

Thomas said Cheng’s statement smacked of disrespect for the religion.

“It’s not a question of majority or minority. Everybody should be treated as equal in this multireligious, multiracial society,” he said.

Thomas called on all communities to recognise and respect religions different from their own.

“We’ve been living with these holidays all along. The question of business should not arise as we should view the holidays as a long-term investment which brings diversity and peace.”

He said out that holidays were good for the economy as people shopped more during such events.

Approximately 87% of the 1,970,000 Indians in Malaysia are Hindus. Additionally, 19.2% of Malaysia’s population is Buddhist, although if combined with Chinese religions it can go up to 21.6%.