Thaipusam in Penang is not only a celebration of faith and freedom of religion but also of diversity in our multi-cultural and multi-religious society. Not only is Thaipusam in Penang the oldest such celebration in Malaysia, but it has a long tradition of people from all walks of life and different backgrounds, including foreign multi-national corporations, actively participating.
Thaipusam in Malaysia began in Penang with the procession of the Silver Chariot and has continued. The state government gives full support to the Hindu Endowment Board in organising the procession, including the Golden Chariot, which made its debut last year.
A building at Jalan Macalister valued at RM50 million has been allocated for the Hindu Endowment Board since 2010. The state government has also increased the yearly allocation to the Hindu Endowment Board from RM1.1 million to RM1.5 million this year.
The Federal Court’s decision yesterday that both parents, and not one, must jointly decide the religion of their child who is below 18 years old, is a relief to all parents. The Federal Court decision will make Thaipusam celebrations more meaningful in ensuring that the constitutional rights of both parents are respected as well as protect the children from the trauma of divorce and marriages breaking up. By reaffirming the original position of the 1957 Federal Constitution, this decision has also restored the essence and substance of Merdeka as a social compact of nation-building for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion and background.
LIM GUAN ENG