GEORGE TOWN, Aug 15 — Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy proposed that the federal government enact a law to cover Hindu temples in the country.
The Penang lawmaker said such legislation was needed to provide for Hindu interests in the country, noting that there is only one Hindu Endowment Board (HEB) in Malaysia, which is in Penang.
“There were three Hindu Endowment Boards in the then Malaya, one in Penang, one in Singapore and another in Malacca but now, I don’t know what happened to the one in Malacca, it’s gone,” he said.
He said the establishment of HEBs in the country’s states would provide for the upkeep of Hindu temples and resolve matters related to these.
Ramasamy added that a federal law was needed as it was a national issue.
He said it would also allow the HEB to be introduced in states with large Indian communities such as Kedah, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang.
“The HEB will work out programmes to protect the socio-economic interests of the Hindus in general,” he said in a press conference with Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow in Komtar today.
Ramasamy declined to offer details of such an Act, saying he was leaving this to the experts.
The Penang HEB was formed under the Mohamedan and Hindu Endowments Ordinance 1906, a colonial era law.
“After Merdeka, Singapore enacted its own Hindu Endowment Act and in Malaysia, only Penang’s HEB remained,” he said.
Earlier, Chow announced that appointment of new commissioners to the Penang HEB.
The Penang HEB manages 12 temples, burial grounds and other Hindu related properties.