22 August 2017
No malice intended in covering up statue, says Negeri MB
Mohamad Hasan says it was done out of respect for the Indian philosopher.
In clearing the air over the issue, Mohamad said his office had indeed asked for the statue of Thiruvalluvar to be covered up but had done so out of respect.
GEORGE TOWN: There was no ill-intent in covering up an Indian philosopher’s statue at a Tamil school in Seremban, Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan said today.
Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukkural, an all-inclusive ethical guide written several centuries ago, has been translated into many languages.
“The stage is placed directly in front of the statue.
“It is not nice to have our backs facing the statue, so it’s better off covered to respect the statue.
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Report: Indian poet’s statue not removed, covered to protect new paint
The statue of Indian philosopher Thiruvalluvar at a Tamil school in Negeri Sembilan was not covered up on the instruction of the state government, but to “protect” its new coat of paint.
A spokesperson for SJK (T) Ladang Shanghai in Mambau told news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) that there was no instruction by the state government to cover up the statue before a visit to the school by Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan today, as alleged in social media posts.
“We covered the statue because we had just repainted it. We wanted to protect it because we were constructing the stage for the event,” the spokesperson, who refused to be named, told the portal.
He also showed FMT a picture of the repainted statue of Thiruvalluvar, the author of classic Tamil literature Thirukkural, and said the school has since uncovered the statue and urged people to stop spreading rumours.
The alleged cover-up of the statue was first highlighted by a Negeri Sembilan PKR leader, who claimed that the statue was removed due to the directive.
A before and after composite photo was also circulated on social media, the latter of which showed the statue allegedly covered up under a canopy surrounded by flags.
21 August 2017
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The rise of religious extremism in Malaysia
In a park in Kulim, two statues of women with wings were removed because they were “offensive” to Islam. These statues merely existed to enhance the attraction of the park but were ordered removed.
In a school in Ulu Langat, the headmaster instructed the separation of drinking cups for Muslim and non-Muslim children. Although the direction was rescinded, nonetheless, the damage was done, and it set a dangerous precedent for other schools in the country to follow.
Very recently, a statue of great Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar in a Tamil School in the state was told to be covered up by the Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar’s Office.
I am not sure how these three incidents would advance inter-racial and inter-religious understanding in a country that has become increasingly polarised. These acts were committed by those in power under the present BN government. But why then the zeal to remove these statues ending up hurting the non-Muslims?
The statues in the park in Kulim had been there for some time but how come they became suddenly offensive to the villagers, resulting in their removal?
Separating drinking cups for Muslims and non-Muslims seems an early sign of the emergence of a religious apartheid in public schools. I am sure if these trends are not checked, we might even do better than what South Africa did during the apartheid era.
The latest incident of the cover-up of the statue in Negeri Sembilan is a worrisome one. It did not take place in a public park but in a Tamil school.
I don’t understand why the menteri besar’s office would issue such a directive for covering up the statue. What were the headmaster, teachers and members of the parent-teacher association doing when the statue was covered up? Most importantly, what was the Negeri Sembilan MIC doing when this directive was implemented?
It is indeed shocking that there are no obvious limits to what the authorities can do and cannot. Statues that have existed for long have suddenly become “offensive” to Muslims. Ordinary events and programmes in the country have been rendered political.
P RAMASAMY is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang and the state assemblyperson for Perai.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.