THE Penang government will appeal to the National Security Council (NSC), National Unity Ministry and other relevant agencies to allow 500 devotees to follow the chariot procession and 3,000 people to enter the Waterfall Hilltop Temple at any one time during the Thaipusam celebration.
Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P. Ramasamy said this decision was taken following a revision of the standard operation procedures (SOPs) by the Federal Government from allowing 1,000 devotees to 100 devotees to follow the chariot procession and only 3,000 people to enter the temple between 5am and 5pm.
“We would like to appeal to the Federal Government to consider allowing 500 people to follow the chariot and 3,000 to enter the temple at any one time.
“The temple has a built-up area of 30,000sq ft and is capable of accommodating 10,000 people at any one time, but of course due to the current situation, we are not allowed to do so.
“According to the current SOPs, it would mean that only about 250 people will be allowed to go up, pray for 30 minutes and then leave.
“The temple must then be sanitised before the next batch of people start to come in.
“We hope the Federal Government can consider our appeal and make the necessary changes to ensure the significance of the Thaipusam festival is observed, while also making sure the people abide by the SOPs,” Ramasamy said during a press conference in Komtar today.
He has also requested the Federal Government to review the current temple closure time, which states that it can only be open until 11pm on Thaipusam day on Jan 18, but must be closed at 5pm on other days of the celebrations between Jan 15 and 17.
Meanwhile, Jelutong MP RSN Rayer said that if at all the appeal fails to materialise, the public must strictly follow the finalised SOPs set by the Federal Government.
Story and pix by Kevin Vimal