One of Malaysia’s greatest strengths and assets are her multi cultural population that bring together all forms celebrations that foster unity in our diversity.
This is a very unique feature of Malaysia that is envied all across the world.
However a recent circular by the education ministry did cause some uneasiness and definitely is not in the spirit Of Malaysian Unity.
The circular is designed to make the harvest festival of Pongal become a religious one and exempting our brothers and sisters of different faiths from taking part in the celebration.
Pongal is essentially a day of thanksgiving and gratitude to nature who allowed a bountiful harvest to come to fruition.
Across Tamil Nadu and its other neighbouring states this harvest festival is no different from the Keamatan festival in Sabah and Hari Gawai in Sarawak.
It’s a day farmers irrelevant of religion celebrate a bountiful harvest and thank Mother Nature for her fertile soil, adequate rain and healthy sunlight that were the foundation of a good harvest.
The farmers come together with family and friends and celebrate this day by offering guests and friends sweetened milk rice as a way of celebrating and spreading the cheer of a good harvest.
The festival has been celebrated with the spirit of unity and brotherhood for the last sixty years with many former Prime Ministers even taking part in the celebration.
Why this sudden aversion to it suddenly?
The silence of the Indian Ministers have done little to allay the fears and discontent the circular has raised and if not the Indians in the cabinet who else can the Malaysian Indians depend on to raise issues related to them?
With this in mind I visited the Ministry of Education and met Dr. Habibah Abd. Rahim the acting Directer General of the Ministry and her team to bring up the matter.
They were very cordial and professional in listening and noting our disappointment of the circular and have committed to look into the matter. I’m very hopeful that the Ministry pull back the circular and encourage everyone to embrace and understand the unique amalgamation of diversity in the nation.
Malaysians should always strive to better understand and embrace each other in order to foster a united and strong nation.
Celebrations like Pongal, Hari Gawai, Keamatan are just different ways of celebrating a bountiful harvest in the spirit of peace prosperity and unity and everybody should nurture such practises as a tool for unity and not use it to divide the people.
I hope the education ministry clarifies this and intimately recants the circular and allows all Malaysians to come together and celebrate a better future for all.
MIC Central Working Committee
Chairman, MIC Education Bureau.