KUALA LUMPUR , Jan 20 (Bernama) — The Government Sunday declared Thaipusam a public holiday in the federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from this year.
This year’s Thaipusam falls on Wednesday (Jan 23).
In making the announcement, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the government made the decision in respecting the request of the Indian community and the Hindus in the country.
Thaipusam is currently a holiday in Selangor, Penang , Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Johor.
“Moreover, every year during Thaipusam, the roads in Kuala Lumpur are very congested,” he said when announcing the government’s decision to the thunderous applause from more than 21,000 MIC members and supporters attending the “leader-with-the-people” gathering at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Indoor Stadium in Cheras.
The Indian community, particularly in Kuala Lumpur , had long waited for the government to declare Thaipusam a public holiday.
Addressing a Ponggal Festival (Tamil Harvest Festival) at Jalan Masjid India here last night, Abdullah pledged to the Indian community that he would consider declaring Thaipusam a national holiday.
The Prime Minister had said the annual festival, which falls on Wednesday, was nearing and the community was filled with expectations.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the government on behalf of the Indian community.
MIC had expected the government to declare Thaipusam a national public holiday but nevertheless the party was happy with the announcement eventhough it was only for Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, he told Bernama after the announcement.
For other states, Samy Vellu said he would discuss with the menteris besar and chief ministers on declaring Thaipusam a public holiday.
He said a public holiday would facilitate more Hindus, especially from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, to congregate at Batu Caves to usher in the Thaipusam celebrations this year.
“I will not be attending the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday as it is a public holiday in Putrajaya. Instead, I will be in Batu Caves for Thaipusam,” said the elated Works Minister.
MIC has been asking the government to declare Thaipusam a national holiday for more than a decade.
Samy Vellu said he discussed with the Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique during last week’s Cabinet meeting for Thaipusam be declared a public holiday, at least in Kuala Lumpur .
also in the Star : http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/1/21/nation/20072823&sec=nation