The National Unity Minister Halimah Sadique has in the Dewan Rakyat today (7 December) said there will be no Thaipusam procession allowed next month as the country faces a threat from the Omicron variant.
She added that her ministry has also prepared a list of SOPs for the festival, which falls on 18 January 2022.
“We cannot allow the chariot procession to take place after considering the new Covid-19 variant.” she said, adding that the ministry had came to the decision after meeting with various stakeholders earlier this month.
She said the discussion involved 10 Hindu leaders from Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Johor as the festival is celebrated grandly in these states.
Halimah also said the discussions were attended by officers from the National Security Council (MKN) and health ministry.
“The proposed SOPs will now be brought to various committees to look into the details. The meetings on this will be held from 13 to 15 December.” Halimah said in response to Sivakumar Naidu (PH-Batu Gajah), who raised a question about the SOPs for Thaipusam.
Besides, Sivakumar also asked if temples are allowed to open stalls to supplement their income, especially as these places of worship have been closed for almost two years.
Halimah said her ministry had identified 7 areas that needed to be looked into for the festival and one of them involved the opening of stalls.
“There should not be a problem as long as there is permission from the local authorities.” she said.
As for the upcoming Christmas, she said SOPs will be announced soon following discussions with stakeholders.
In January this year, the annual Thaipusam chariot procession was allowed in both Kuala Lumpur and Penang but subject to strict SOPs, with only 10 devotees allowed to accompany the chariot.
What do you think about this SOP? Share your thoughts!