Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Malaysian ban lifted on Hindu and Sikh priests, temple workers

April 15, 2008
Ban lifted on Hindu and Sikh priests, temple workers

Source: Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 – The Hindu and Sikh communities can now heave a huge sigh of relief. The ban on foreign workers from India who have been brought in to help build and run Hindu temples and gurdwaras has been lifted.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam today issued a statement that the government has decided to renew the working permits of temple priests, musicians and sculptors who were brought in from India to continue rendering their services in the country. However, the statement does not address the status of fresh applications.

Subramaniam, who is also secretary-general of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), said he raised the issue at the last Cabinet meeting on April 9.

Datuk A. Vaithilingam who is the president of Hindu Sangam, the umbrella body for all Hindus in the country, said that it was good news but an unnecessary step in the first place. The ban was ordered by the Cabinet sometime late last year, he added.

“At the moment, they have accepted in principle. I'm told that there will be a meeting later with Home Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar to discuss the details but I don't know when. I don't know why only the workers from India were affected,” he said.

In the meantime, the Hindu Sangam will continue to make new applications to bring in more priests, musicians and sculptors to fulfil the current shortage. There are roughly 180 priests for Hindu temples, which is not enough to meet the local demand.

According to MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, Hindu temples and Sikh gurdwaras are in dire need of some 500 and 300 priests respectively.


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