Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said hundreds of Hindu civil servants serving in all departments, agencies and all four local councils, could apply for time off between 8am to 5pm to attend prayers on Feb 9.
“All they need to do is apply to their respective department heads before Feb 9 so that they would be entitled to all the fringe benefits and insurance coverage offered by the state government while they are travelling for prayers,” he said here on Wednesday.
Idris said that the state had considered the requests by Hindu leaders in the state over the years to allow them to attend prayers during Thaipusam and travel to Batu Caves, Selangor, where the religious festival is traditionally held.
“The government’s policy is also to encourage the freedom of religion,” he said.
Idris said he hopes that the Hindu civil servants will not misuse the privilege and ensure time given is well-spent attending prayers.
State Public Affairs, Human Resources and NGO Affairs committee chairman Datuk M.S. Mahadevan said the decision reflected a caring government.
“We have been advocating for a public holiday or time off for many years and I was touched when the chief minister said that he was giving a Chinese New Year ang pow to Hindus by letting them fulfil their Thaipusam prayers,” he said.
Mahadevan said the Hindus in the state have been lobbying for duty relief or public holiday for Thaipusam like several other states for close to two decades.
“The chief minister stated his points during the meeting and that the time off was a better option in view of the population factor of Hindus in the state compared to neighbouring states,” he said.
Source: The Star