IPOH: Oct 6, 2008 By CHRISTINA KOH
The city’s “Little India” is shaping out to be the scene of a battle for two political parties fighting for the right to hold their own grand Deepavali celebration.
One group is led by Perak executive councillor A. Sivanesan from Pakatan Rakyat, who is crossing swords with an equally determined Perak MIC chairman Datuk G. Rajoo over the matter.
Sivanesan, who is also state Health, Environment and Human Resource Committee chairman, said the state government had as of Monday rejected Rajoo’s application to hold the celebration at Little India.
Sivanesan said this was because Pakatan planned to have its own festival there with the feedback and participation of local hawkers, businessmen and organisations.
“In the past, Ipoh Barat MIC has never involved the public when the party organises the celebration. We’ve received complaints from the traders of Little India,” he claimed.
“This time however, the community will themselves decide with Pakatan how the celebration should be done,” he told reporters at the State Secretariat here on Monday.
Sivanesan also accused the MIC of having previous Deepavali celebrations to profit from the festival, such as through the sale of trading lots.
“But we (Pakatan) are not doing it to make money. As a veteran politician, Rajoo should understand that the final decision is in the hands of the state executive council,” he said.
“The council officers are mere civil servants who should take instruction from the state and perform accordingly,” he added.
A defiant Rajoo said Ipoh Barat MIC would carry on preparations for the Deepavali celebration, which it had been doing for the past 16 years.
Rajoo said the party had already received approval in May from the Ipoh City Council to have the week-long celebration in Little India.
“We paid RM2,600 (for the security deposit) and we were issued an official receipt. We’ve even received payment for 83 stalls from traders.
“Now all of a sudden, Sivanesan wants to have the celebration in the same place which is very unfair. We are not doing this illegally,” he said.
Rajoo argued that the council was an independent body and that Sivanesan should not have meddled in a lawfully approved event.
He also denied that the MIC never involved the public or held such events to make profit, adding that the party even subsidised the celebration so that the Indian traders and community could benefit.
“We are not money-minded. We are a non-profit body. We are running the celebration for the people,” he retorted.