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Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has issued a response to recent public debates on the possibility of Thaipusam once again becoming a public holiday in the country.
MOM’s workplace safety and strategy division director Alvin Lim explained while Thaipusam was a public holiday in Singapore until 1968, the prospect of the British withdrawal and the need to compete for a living in global markets led to the government limiting the number of public holidays in the country.
“The decision on which public holidays to give up was reached only after careful consultation with religious groups,” he said in a statement.
“But any move to reinstate any one festival as a public holiday will invite competing claims, and necessitate considerable renegotiation with all communities. Balancing the wishes of each community will not be a simple matter. Neither can we simply re-allocate public holidays by ethnic group, as amongst both Chinese and Indians we have citizens of different faiths.”
He elaborated the 11 public holidays which the country currently enjoys is neither high nor low when compared to other countries, and is in line with countries such as Canada and New Zealand.
“While we will ensure that all Singaporeans can practise their faiths freely, we cannot make all important festivals of all faiths public holidays. But it must always be possible for Singaporeans to make arrangements to observe their respective religious festivals, and we encourage all employers to show understanding and flexibility in this regard,” he said.