KUCHING, Dec 15: Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) chief Francis Paul Siah opines it is ‘absurd and unnecessary’ to declare December 24 as an additional public holiday for Christmas.
He disclosed this yesterday in a commentary uploaded to the MoCS blog in response to the recent announcement by the Sabah government declaring Dec 24 as a public holiday in the state.
“Even as a Christian, I do not support such a declaration of an additional public holiday over Christmas. I have written about this matter in the past — there are already too many public holidays. We can surely do without another one.
“Sabah CM (Datuk Seri) Shafie Apdal is probably using the public holiday as a feel-good factor for Sabah Christians ahead of the Kimanis by-election. We can liken this to an abuse of power by the chief minister,” alleged Siah.
“I don’t recall Shafie declaring December 24 as an additional public holiday last year. I’m concerned about the sudden underlying political motive to do so this year.
“I do not condone this perceived abuse of power by the Sabah Chief Minister even though it is just a matter of a public holiday.”
Siah said that as a Christian, he is happy that his fellow Christians in Sabah have an extra day off from work to enjoy Christmas.
“I am glad that the Sabah government has accorded Christmas as an important religious occasion worthy of an additional holiday. My key question — is that so vital and necessary?”
Siah expressed concern over there being too many unnecessary public holidays in Malaysia and suggested that the government can take steps to reduce the number of such national holidays for the sake of the nation’s economic growth and the welfare of workers.
“Firstly, can we all agree to a maximum of two of the most important religious occasions and one cultural festival in a calendar year to be observed as national public holidays?
“For example, as a Catholic and a Chinese, I will be very happy if Good Friday and the first day of Chinese New Year are national holidays. I am prepared to forgo even Christmas.
“Good Friday, Christmas and Chinese New Year are of no significance to those of other faith or race. Similarly, the sacred religious occasions of Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists hold little meaning for me.
“So why should I be observing an occasion which is of little or no significance to me? Thus, it makes sense for me to be at work,” he opined.
Siah opined that employees, whether in the public or private sector, who are entitled to annual leave of between 11 to 21 days, should make use of this leave if they need to take an extended holiday.
He added that this is a sacrifice every citizen will have to make if they earnestly wish to see the nation progress and prosper.
“If I were a Sabahan, I will tell Shafie Apdal this today: “I don’t think we need an additional public holiday, sir. Workers are more interested in improving their income with better wages than public holidays.”
Nevertheless, Siah hoped the additional holiday would benefit those celebrating the occasion.
“It will also enable those celebrating Christmas to return home earlier,” he added. — DayakDaily