Deepavali marathon organisers insensitive, says Gerakan

GEORGE TOWN: Organisers of a post-Deepavali run apparently endorsed by the Penang government have been slammed by Gerakan for holding the event so close to the Indian festival.

The 2016 Penang Run will be held this Sunday, just one day after Deepavali on Oct 29. In 2013, the same run was held on Thaipusam day.

Gerakan Deputy Youth Chief H Puvaniten said the Penang government was not sensitive to those in the Indian community who wanted to join the event, as many would likely be caught up with festivities at home.

“If you see previous records of other marathons or runs, people of Indian descent had won or did fairly well.

“By having this run so close to Deepavali, you are depriving Indians of the chance to join this programme.

“At least the state government could have advised them (organisers) to have it on another date. After all, did not the chief minister say anything with the word Penang ought to have his permission first?” Puvaniten asked at a press conference here today.

Penang Run 2016 is organised by a largely unknown outfit called ActifeLifestyle with the cooperation of the Penang Island City Council (MBPP). They are offering a 21km competitive run and a 7km “fun” run this Oct 30. The first ten winners will receive cash prizes ranging from RM50 to RM500 and medals.

Previously, the run was organised by Tanjung Social Club and Penang Forward Sports Club and was sponsored by Universiti Sains Malaysia and the State Youth and Sports Department.

This year’s run drew criticism from Deputy Chief Minister II and Hindu Endowment Board chairman P Ramasamy, who accused the organisers of being “insensitive” to Indians.

He has since ordered the organisers to apologise to Indians in the state.

“I am asking the organiser to postpone the run to a later date. I am also asking the MBPP to disassociate itself from supporting ActifeStyle.”

The Penang government came under fire by the Opposition for being insensitive to Indians in the state because the Penang Run is taking place a day after Deepavali.

He admitted a mistake could have been made and the Penang government would take full responsibility for it.

Back in 2013, the Thaipusam Day Penang Run sparked a furore between the DAP and Gerakan.