KUALA LUMPUR, July 3:
Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong’s appointment to oversee the Hindu Endowment Board portfolio was “not the right thing to do”, a Hindu organisation said.
In siding with criticisms made by the Penang Hindu Endowment Board, Hindu Sangam president Datuk Mohan Shan questioned the appointment of an ethnic Chinese to handle issues related to Hindus in Malaysia.
“What can he do in the Hindu board? He’s a Chinese. I don’t know how he’s going to handle it,” he told The Rakyat Post this evening.
Penang Hindu Endowment Board chairman P. Ramasamy had reportedly called Mah’s new role an an “insult to Hindus” and questioned why an Indian leader was not chosen to look after the portfolio.
According to a Malaysiakini report, Ramasamy drew attention to Persatuan Hindraf Malaysia (PWM) chairman P. Waythamoorthy, who was appointed by the Prime Minister to oversee Hindu affairs, but resigned from his post eight months later.
Ramasamy then questioned what hope there was for Mah to perform when Waythamoorthy, who was familiar with the Indian community, had to vacate his post.
Apart from overseeing the Hindu Endowment Board, the Gerakan president — who was appointed to Cabinet last week — will also be in charge of the Innovation Unit (Unik) and the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology (Might).
He will also look after the welfare of Chinese petty traders and hawkers.
Mohan said Mah should perhaps seek someone under the Hindu Sangam to assist him, as it was a big portfolio for Hindus in the country.
“We don’t know what experience he has and what he knows about Hindu issues, about the temples and such.”
He added the Prime Minister should have sought the organisation’s advice on candidates for the post.
Mohan suggested Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should have appointed someone from the Hindu Sangam or related non-governmental organisations into the Cabinet or the Prime Minister’s Department.
“That would be the right thing to do. We can advise on what can be done. They cannot appoint and ask him (Mah) to do things that he does not know about,” Mohan said, adding that Mah should now seek advice from them.
Amidst the criticism from certain quarters, the newly appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said he was excited and humbled to be tasked with the portfolio, one of several he would be overseeing.
In a statement, Mah said he was proud to be given the opportunity to serve Indians and the Hindu community.
He added he was ready to serve the people as he “subscribed firmly to the 1Malaysia concept that promoted inter-racial harmony and unity”.
“This appointment is a testament to Gerakan’s multi-racial and multi-religious commitment to governance and reinforces its credentials as a Malaysian party.”
In carrying out his duties in Might, Mah said that his previous experience as Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister in 2004 and Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation chairman would be “invaluable”.
The Hindu Endowment Board administers endowments such as land, property, burial grounds or funds given for the benefit of the Hindu community.