New law being drafted to protect interests of Hindus

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy says a high-powered team is looking into the drafting of the law to protect interests of Hindus. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy said a draft law to oversee interests of Hindus in the country will be presented to the country’s top leadership so that it can be enacted in Parliament.

Ramasamy said the proposed federal law will see the creation of Hindu Endowment Boards (HEBs) in states with large Hindu communities.

He said the drafting of the Hindu Endowments Act was being studied by a high-powered team in keeping with a Pakatan Harapan election promise to create HEBs throughout the country.

“Since the Federal Constitution does not allow the formation of HEBs at the state level, a body formed through an Act in Parliament would be the best way to do so.

“HEB will protect the existing temples, resolve temple-related problems, and take over Hindu properties that have been abandoned.

“But more importantly, the HEB will work out the mechanism for the advancement of the socio-economic interest of Hindus in general,” Ramasamy said in Komtar today.

Also present was Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow who presented credentials to three new Penang HEB commissioners, comprising of state assemblymen Kumaresan Aramugam and Satees Muniandy; and state Malaysia Hindhudharma Maamandaram chair Nanda Kumar Velu.

Meanwhile, Ramasamy said Penang’s HEB is formed under the Mohamedan and Hindu Endowments Ordinance 1906 under the former British colonial government of the Straits Settlements of Penang, Melaka and Singapore.

He said the ordinance governing Penang’s HEB is still active as it was absorbed into federal law, as per other colonial-period laws.

“After Merdeka, Singapore enacted its Hindu Endowments Act in parliament, while only in Melaka, the board seemed to have disappeared into thin air,” he said.

In Penang, the HEB manages about 12 temples, burial grounds and Hindu-related properties. According to a recent state assembly reply, the Penang HEB has RM21.1 million in audited fixed assets.