Is The Independent Singapore trying to stir religious and racial tensions by wanting to declare Thaipusam as a holiday. The fact it wasn’t a holiday is because It was the Hindus that chose to give up Thaipusam as a holiday!
We appreciate the perspectives shared by many Singaporeans on Thaipusam.
As many have noted, Thaipusam was a public holiday until 1968. Faced with the British withdrawal and the need to compete in global markets, the government decided to reduce the total number of public holidays, among other things.
The decision on which public holidays to give up was reached only after careful consultation with religious groups. Muslims chose to give up Prophet Muhamed’s Birthday as well as an extra day for Hari Raya Puasa. Christians chose to give up the Saturday after Good Friday and Easter Monday. Hindus had to choose between Thaipusam and Deepavali, and chose the latter.
Buddhists, who comprised the largest faith and had only one public holiday to begin with, Vesak Day, were not asked to give it up. Some groups continued to celebrate their important religious occasions, such as Vesakhi for the Sikhs and Lao-Tzu’s Birthday for the Taoists, without these being public holidays.
The 11 public holidays that we now enjoy is neither high nor low when compared to other countries. New Zealanders, Canadians and the French enjoy the same number. Malaysia and Indonesia enjoy more days, but we have a few more than developed countries like Holland , Britain and Germany.