The Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) is considering taking over the management of the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple for defying state policies and carrying out the annual Thaipusam silver chariot journey earlier today.
PHEB chairman, Prof Dr P. Ramasamy said the procession was an utter disregard to the safety and health of all Penangites, considering the alarming rates of COVID-19 cases in the state.
“Section 4 of the Hindu Endowments Ordinance gives the board the right to discuss the matter. This is how the board handled problematic temples in Penang before.
“There is a need for the board to intervene if there are public complaints or mismanagement. However, the board must first get approvals from the state executive council and the Governor,” he told a press conference here today.
Ramasamy, who is also Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, said the state government has reiterated their stance of not allowing any chariot procession during Thaipusam.
However, he said Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan wrote an endorsement on a letter for the two Penang temples to run their respective chariots during Thaipusam, albeit without stating that there is National Security Council (MKN) approval.
“To date, the state government and the MKN have not given permission for the chariot procession in Penang. If they (Nattukotai Chettiar temple) have defied the directive of the Penang state government or the MKN, the authorities must act firmly,” he added.
Yesterday, PHEB announced that it is sticking to its decision to disallow the Thaipusam chariot procession despite certain groups demanding it.
However, Nattukotai Chettiar Temple trustee Dr A. Narayanan this morning claimed that they had obtained the permit from MKN to bring the silver chariot accompanied by about 10 people to Nattukottai Chettiar Temple.
The silver chariot has made its journey at 3.30 am from Kovil Veedu Temple in Penang Street and arrived at Nattukottai Chettiar Temple in Jalan Air Terjun about 6 am this morning and will return to Penang Street on Jan 29.