KUALA LUMPUR: There will be no Thaipusam procession next month as the country faces a threat from the Omicron variant, national unity minister Halimah Sadique said today.
She told the Dewan Rakyat her ministry has also prepared a list of SOPs for the festival, which falls on Jan 18.
“We cannot allow the chariot procession to take place in light of the new Covid-19 variant,” she said.
Halimah said her ministry had met with various stakeholders earlier this month.
She said 10 Hindu leaders from Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Johor were involved in the discussions as the festival is celebrated grandly in these states.
The discussions were also attended by officers from the National Security Council (MKN) and health ministry.
“The proposed SOPs will now be brought to various committees to look into the details. The meetings on this will be held from Dec 13 to 15,” Halimah told Sivakumar Naidu (PH-Batu Gajah), who enquired about the SOPs for Thaipusam.
Sivakumar also asked if temples will be allowed to open stalls to supplement their income, especially as these places of worship have been closed for almost two years.
Halimah said her ministry had identified seven areas that needed to be looked into for the festival, including one involving the opening of stalls.
“There should not be a problem as long as there is permission from the local authorities,” she said.
She said that SOPs for Christmas would also be announced soon following discussions held with stakeholders.
In January this year, the annual Thaipusam chariot procession was held in both Kuala Lumpur and Penang but subject to strict SOPs, with only 10 devotees allowed to accompany the chariot.