Celebrate Deepavali moderately – Penang CM

by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA

CHIEF Minister Chow Kon Yeow (picture) has advised Penangites celebrating Deepavali tomorrow to do so in a moderate manner as the country is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

He acknowledged that the pandemic had changed the overall landscape and normalcy, including this year’s Deepavali celebration, so much so that the tradition of ‘balik kampung’ (returning to hometowns) and religious ceremonies are limited and celebrated in strict accordance of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“The state government understands this difficult situation and hopes the people of Penang, especially those celebrating Deepavali, will do so moderately and adhere to the stipulated rules throughout the enforcement of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

“I hope everyone understands that the decision is taken based on facts. As such, we must accept the fact that the current situation requires the enforcement of the CMCO,” he said today in conjunction with Deepavali.

Tomorrow, the Hindu community will celebrate Deepavali, also known as the Festival of Light, which symbolises the victory of good over evil.

Chow said that despite the new normal, the availability of various facilities as well as broadband services in this era of digital technology meant everyone could still communicate with their loved ones, like parents or relatives back in their hometowns, throughout the festive season.

He said the state government would continue to strengthen the Indian community by making the Penang Hindu Endowment Board (HEB) an important organisation in helping the community in the state.

Apart from that, Chow said the HEB had also been allocated RM1.5 million next year to provide educational assistance to students offered places at higher learning institutions; for temple management as well as upgrading of crematoriums; and for medical assistance to the needy.

“Also for 2021, the state government will allocate an education fund of RM2 million for Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT) and RM150,000 each to all Tamil pre-schools in the state.

“Funds amounting to RM150,000 will also be channelled to the Tamil schools’ special fund while RM90,000 will be allocated for the development of Punjabi schools in the state,” he said.

He added that up to this year, 109 students were eligible for scholarships from the HEB, involving a total of RM157,450, to enable them to further their studies.