Salahuddin says that his comments equating Thaipusam with a street demonstration was not meant to insult the Hindu faith.
“The point that I was making was not about religion.
“I was talking about Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. I highlighted Thaipusam to make a point about how Malaysians throughout the years, even before independence have gathered and organised themselves in large numbers.
“This was part of a list of other examples that I used to put my point across,” he said.
The Kubang Kerian MP stressed that he had no intention to insult the religious event which is a major Hindu celebration here.
Salahuddin, who met with Kamalanathan, to explain his comments on the matter said that to drive his point across, he used the examples of the gathering against the Malayan Union led by Onn Jaafar (1946), the Perarakan Kerandah 152 (2009) which demanded for the importance of the Malay language, Thaipusam and Maulidur Rasul celebrations to commemorate the prophet’s birthday.
“I did not mean to insult any religion. Why then did I bring up the example of Maulidur Rasul?” he asked.
Kamalanathan, who is the Hulu Selangor MP, took Salahuddin to task yesterday for his comments on Tuesday during a debate entitled “Street demonstrations: Does it build or destroy democracy?” organised by Malay daily, Sinar Harian.
Salahuddin reportedly said that thousands of Hindus gathered during Thaipusam peacefully without the intervention of the authorities.
The PAS leader was also alleged to have said that some Hindus carrying kavadi were semi-conscious and yet they do not need tear gas to keep the situation calm.
Calling Salahuddin “naive”, Kamanathan said his comments were both “insulting and hurting” to the Hindus.
“Belittling the practices of another religion and calling the devotees semi-conscious street demonstrators show lack of understanding and respect for the Hindu devotees,” he added.
‘Just stating facts’
Salahuddin, however, stressed that he was not insulting but merely stating facts about how the public could organise themselves.
“It was only to show that the public is capable of organising themselves. We have the devotees who are semi-conscious but still controllable,” he said.
“Then I also mentioned the large crowds that march during the Maulidur Rasul. You don’t need to use tear-gas to control the crowd.
“That is the point I was making that as long as excessive force is not used, the gatherings have always been peaceful,” he added.