Groups blast 'cancel Deepavali, Wesak hols' call
The call by the chairperson of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce for the public holidays of Deeapavali and Wesak to be cancelled and made into normal working days has raised the ire of groups, who have demanded that the remark be retracted and an apology issued.
William Cheng (left) had reportedly lamented as 'too many' the number of public holidays for being bad for business.
The government should consider cancelling Deepavali and Wesak Day, Cheng was said to have proposed, as only a “minority” group of people celebrate the occasions.
Expressing “shock” at his statement today, DAP said expressed its “strongest objection” against the proposal.
First of all, said the party's national vice-chairperson, Hindus who celebrate Deepavali and Buddhists who celebrate Wesak are not a mere minority.
“These festivals are celebrated by millions in this country,” said M Kulasegaran, who is also DAP's Ipoh Barat member of parliament.
While it is fair and right for the business community and employers to put productivity as their first priority, they must not think of “robbing” the Hindus and Buddhists of the two public holidays.
“In fact, no one should rob any race or group of the current public holidays already gazetted,” said Kulasegaran (right), who said businesses should seek other ways to improve productivity instead of merely making a holiday a workday.
“Besides, public holidays encourage economic growth as more people will travel to tourist spots and throng the shopping centres,” he added.
Cheng should realize that the declaration of some festivals as public holidays carries with it the significance of the government's respect for and recognition of the importance of the festivals, said Kulasegaran.
Cheng's statement that Deepavali and Wesak public holidays should be cancelled is thus is not only puzzling but “is in fact insensitive, irresponsible, totally ridiculous and unacceptable.”
“He must withdraw his comments and tender a public apology to the Hindus and Buddhists.”
Echoing his demands was the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, whose president RS Mohan Shan said It was “absolutely irresponsible” of Cheng to dismiss Deepavali and Wesak Day purportedly because the occasions are not celebrated by as many people as other festivities.
“Tan Sri William Cheng should have realised that his statement would hurt the sentiment and feelings of the Hindus and Buddhists in the country.
“As a prominent person in the business community, he should have known that his statement would also have far-reaching consequences,” said Mohan Shan in a statement.
The Malaysia Hindu Sangam urged Cheng to immediately withdraw his statement and offer his apologies to the Hindus and Buddhists in the country for making “this extremely short-sighted and meaningless suggestion,” said Mohan Shan.