PETALING JAYA: P Prabakaran (PH-Batu) has demanded an apology from those responsible for barring the performance of two traditional Tamil songs at a Tamil language carnival in Penang on Thursday.
The PKR MP said the incident at the event organised by the education ministry had “hurt the Indian community” since the songs were a tradition for Tamil schools.
“This is a religious matter for the Indians, why is the ministry getting involved in it? I urge the ministry to investigate the matter and apologise to the Indian community,” he said during the committee-level debate on the Supply Bill 2024 today.
The two songs in question were “Kadavul Valthu”, a worship song, and “Tamil Valthu”, which is about the Tamil language.
Prabakaran also claimed that pictures of Tamil literary and philosophical figure Thiruvalluvar were banned from the carnival. He questioned why this was done.
He said even Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim had quoted Thiruvalluvar when tabling the 2024 budget last month.
“This looks like sabotage from someone within the ministry itself. I urge whoever is involved to apologise,” he said.
During his tabling of Budget 2024, Anwar quoted the Thirukkural classic Tamil literature as an introduction to parts of the budget focused on improving the Indian community’s standard of living.
Separately, RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) slammed those who prevented the songs from being sung at the carnival, stating that the issue was a hot topic in Penang.
“If Batu (Prabakaran) is asking for an apology, I demand disciplinary action to be taken against the education ministry officials involved,” he said.
Meanwhile, R Yuneswaran (PH-Segamat) called for the establishment of a special committee to prevent a recurrence of the incident. He also urged education minister Fadhlina Sidek to take appropriate action on those responsible, and inform the lower house once she had done so.
“I am confident that the minister did not give (such) instructions, but was sabotaged by irresponsible individuals – which worsened the situation,” he said.
Last week, Penang executive councillor S Sundarajoo and Bagan Dalam assemblyman K Kumaran reportedly urged Anwar and education minister Fadhlina Sidek to intervene in the matter.
The Penang education department later said the education ministry had never banned the performance of any traditional songs at language or cultural events, acknowledging discontent over the issue involving the carnival.