By Brad Rantayy
MIRI, April 19: The federal government’s decision to grant Christian civil servants unrecorded leave today to celebrate Good Friday may be a good “interim” solution to the long-standing problem facing Sarawakians who celebrate Deepavali.
For decades, the Indian community has been appealing to the state government to declare the Festival of Lights as a public holiday, but their efforts were futile as the number of Indians in Sarawak is minuscule. In addition, having too many public holidays would also affect the economy, the government had explained previously.
Hence, if the private and public sectors could grant those who celebrate Deepavali unrecorded leave, it seems to be a viable compromise, for now.
When contacted, Sarawak Indian Association vice-president Karambir Singh said the best solution that his people yearned for remained declaring Deepavali a public holiday.
“However, as an interim step, it would be good if unrecorded leave could be given to Indians across the state,” said Karambir, who is also Miri Indian Association chairman.
In praising Putrajaya for giving unrecorded leave to all Christian civil servants today, he, however, pointed out that if the Indian community were granted unrecorded leave, too, they would still not be able to welcome their friends to their open houses.
“This is because their friends and colleagues would still be working,” he reasoned.
“Hence, we hope an open-hearted approach is used and Deepavali be declared a public holiday.”
He reminded that Indian associations in the state had for decades requested for the festive celebration to be made a public holiday.
“Ideally, all these requests should be taken seriously to recognise the Indian community in Sarawak,” he opined. — DayakDaily