The Online Citizen

“We must stop this brutality,” says Human Rights Lawyer

January 14
18:56 2011

by Deborah Choo

Human rights lawyer Mr M. Ravi will apply to court for an injunction against the government’s newly imposed guidelines on the Tamil Hindu festival Thaipusam “indiscriminately” on the Hindu devotees participating in the said festival. This comes as the latest announcement at this morning’s press conference.

Source: trekearth.com

The guidelines released by the Hindu Endowment Board (HEB) bans the playing of recorded or sounding gongs or drums, painting and piercing of faces and bodies, any form of visual representations such as banners, flags, postcards, and prohibits a public address system amongst others.

In an unprecedented move, the HEB now requires the registration of a Kavadi representative to sign an undertaking before the authorization of the participation of a procession can be granted. In addition, he/ she has to attend a briefing on Thaipusam procedures prior to the authorization.

Thaipusam is slated to be held on next Thursday, 20 January.

Ravi, acting not only as human rights lawyer but also as a devout Hindu, will be processing his application based on the 2nd Charter of Justice which was issued on 27 November 1826.

In his originating summons against the Attorney General Chambers and the Hindu Endowment Board in face of the recent controversial Thaipusam rulings, he asserts that the abovementioned guidelines “violate the fundamental rights to freedom of speech, assembly and expression, of the Hindu devotees participating in Thaipusam, which are guaranteed under Article 14 of the Commission.”

To be able to fully comprehend the meaning behind Thaipusam and appreciate the beauty and significance of the festival, Ravi asserts that one must track its roots back in history. He argued that since the 1800s, Malaysian states like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Selangor, Johor Bahru are used to having Thaipusam declared as a public holiday. However, why is this not the case in Singapore?

The originating summons also clearly states that the guidelines are “in breach of Article 9 of the Constitution in that the said rules fail to safeguard the lives and liberties of the Hindu devotees and their supporters, whilst in trance during the ‘Kavadi’ procession.”

He explains that interrupting a person whilst in trance can be dangerous to the person himself/ herself. “We have to stop this brutality,” he said resolutely.

In response to speculation that the government decision might be a result of a fear of gang violence, he quotes the peaceful yet lively celebrations that took place in 1976 in Kuala Lumpur (see video below) which saw thousands of people congregating in a single place for the processions. He then questioned the need for police officers to send Hindu devotees to jail just because they are expressing themselves during the celebrations in which music is an integral part.

Thaipusam is not only a celebration, but a form of “personal expression” according to Ravi. He also posed the questions to reporters at the press conference: “Can you ask the lion dances not to have drums?”

Video description: Filmed in 1976, this video documents Thaipusam celebrations in Singapore and the Batu Caves, Malaysia during that period. As you will observe in the video, the smashing of coconuts on the ground signifies the destruction of personal egos.

Note that a large portion of the celebrants are not of Indian ethnicity, especially the Chinese and Peranakans.

“Are you creating terrorists out of them? Who is engineering this violence? It’s the state,” he said.

Ravi said that he wants “this injunction to be stopped by Monday.”  Ravi will also bring this case up to the ASEAN inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights.

Thaipusam

Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival that takes place on the full moon day of the Tamil month Thai (Jan-Feb).  Thaipusam is derived from the words ‘Thai’ which means the 10th, and ‘pusam’ which means when the moon is at its brightest.

This festival honours Lord Subramaniam, also known as Lord Murugan, the deity of youth, power and virtue, which is best demonstrated through the carrying of ‘kavadi’ in a 4 km procession.

This festival is a time for repentance for devotees with celebrations carried out mainly at the temple. Devotees prepare themselves spiritually with extensive prayer and fasting before performing acts of penance or thanksgiving like carrying a kavadi from one temple to another. Often, sharp skewers are pierced through their tongues, cheeks and bodies as a practice of self-mortification. Offerings include fruits, flowers and pots of milk.

Video description:

This video is based on the true story that occurred in 1812. The story begins with a man. His name was Rous Peter, collector of Madurai. (Madurai, now more than 2,500 years old, was once the capital of the ancient pandya kingdom.)

He was also known as Peter Pandian to many. One night, thunder roared and lightning struck. Out of the blue, a little girl appears and woke Peter in his bedroom. She hurriedly leads him out of his house. Then, at that moment, the lightning destroyed his room.

Just as suddenly as she appeared, the girl disappeared. Peter believed that sree Meenakshi presented a pair of golden stirrups embedded with precious stones.

*The actual temple used in this film is still standing today in Madurai. To read more, click here.

The following is the full version of M Ravi’s originating summons:

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE

Originating Summons                     of 2010

In the Matter of Article 9, 12, 14 and 15 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore

And

In the Matter of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ASEAN Human Rights Commission and ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights

And

In the Matter of the Federation of Malaysia, 1948 and 1963-65

And

In the Matter of the Independence of the Republic of Singapore, 1965

And

In the Matter of the Second Charter of Justice 1826 governing the local customs and traditions of the Indian British Subjects under the Colonial Administration of Singapore

And

In the Matter of Ravi S/O Madasamy

(NRIC No. S6913333I)

… Plaintiff

v

1. Attorney General

(I.D Does not exist)

2. Hindu Endowment Board

(I.D Does not exist)

… Defendants

ORIGINATING SUMMONS

LET ALL PARTIES concerned attend before the judge on the ___ day of    _________ 2011 at ___ AM/PM for the hearing of an application by The Plaintiff for the following orders that:

  1. The guidelines pertaining to the festival of Thaipusam, imposed by the Government of the Republic of Singapore through the Hindu Endowment Board, on the Hindu devotees participating in the said festival to be held on 20th January 2011, are in breach of the Minority Rights guaranteed under Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore.
  1. The Thaipusam guidelines which violate Article 12 of the Constitution violate the rights of religious minorities guaranteed under the auspices of the Presidential Council of Minority Rights.
  1. A declaration that the abovementioned guidelines are in breach of Article 9 of the Constitution in that the said rules fail to safeguard the lives and liberties of the Hindu devotees and their supporters, whilst in trance during the ‘Kavadi’ procession; since in accordance with the said guidelines , they are not allowed to beat drums, play music or chant loudly during the 4 kilometre procession. The enforcement of the Thaipusam guidelines endanger the safety and personal liberty of devotees who seek music and dance from their supporters during the 4 kilometre procession.
  2. The abovementioned guidelines violate the fundamental rights to freedom of speech, assembly and expression, of the Hindu devotees participating in Thaipusam, which are guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.
  1. The said guidelines are in breach of the constitutional right of the Hindu devotees, to practice and profess one’s religion, guaranteed under Article 15 of the Constitution.
  1. The Government of the Republic of Singapore and/or its agents be injuncted including the Elected President who is advised by the Presidential Council of Minority Rights from imposing the said guidelines and therefore allowing the Hindu devotees their rights to peaceful enjoyment of the Thaipusam procession and hence protect them from police brutality.

Dated this         day of January 2011

This originating summons is filed by Ravi S/O Madasamy, NRIC No. S6913333I, of 81 Kovan, Road #02-03, Singapore 548173 .

_________________________

M. Ravi

Note: This summons may not be served more than 6 calendar months after the above date unless renewed by order of the Court.

If a defendant does not attend personally or by his counsel or solicitor at the time and place abovementioned such order will be made as the Court may think just and expedient.

Unless otherwise provided in any written law, where the plaintiff intends to adduce evidence in support of an originating summons she must do so by affidavit, and must file the affidavit or affidavits and serve a copy thereof on every defendant not later than 7 days after the service of the originating summons.

To:      The Defendants

Attorney – Generals Chambers

1 Coleman Street #10-00

Singapore 179803

Tel: 6336 1411

Fax: 6339 0286

The Defendants

Hindu Endowments Board (HEB)
397 Serangoon Road
Singapore 218123

  • prettyplace

    Thank You TOC & Ravi for putting this up and providing all Indians space.

    It is a bold move and one, long warranted.
    well done Ravi.

    I just heard that there might not be any of the latest guildlines placed.

  • WorldCitizen

    Singapore is becoming more like China, with its suppression on religion and culture.

  • wth

    thank you TR and Mani…. dun worry they will have to answer for their action sooner or later..

  • jsraj

    Ravi thank you, i think i its time someone stood up for the community and do the job of what our Indian MP’s ought to have been doing.

    May we also take this opportunity to ask the committee of the Hindu Endowment Borad to step down.

  • Lll

    Great

  • Bobby Tan

    I am totally speechless!
    What is PAP Government trying to do or prove?
    Are the [religious fanatics] Talibans in Parliament involved in this strange clamp down on a Religious Festival?
    I am not hindu nor Indian…..but I am angry with the PAP Government for being so paranoid and childish and intolerant.
    No wonder so many people are now more determined to vote out the PAP in the next GE.

  • limkopi

    if you put this to vote by other races
    the answer is they can tolerate the noise for a day or 2 , thats being singaporean

    honestly , i think they are wary of indian FW who may incite violence otherwise i find this restriction nonsense

  • Pingback: Thaipusam: “stop this brutality”? « Thoughts of a Cynical Investor

  • Cosmopolitan

    We didn’t have this worry in the past and such festival brought colors to our diversified culture. Under LHL leadership, such stunt is very unfortunate and indeed it could be due to influx of indian foreigners that created such fear of havoc. Than again, it is unfair to blame god when the ruling party has no foresight when opening the floodgate to immigrants.

  • Daft Sinkie

    M.Ravi is actually really smart to do this. If the PAP ignores or throws out the case, it’ll be seen as intolerant and discriminatory. If the PAP is found guilty and rescinds this stupid law, it’ll also be seen as intolerant and discriminatory.

    The PAP, MHA and HEB brought this lose-lose situation upon themselves and deserve no sympathy, especially when they’re wallowing in their arrogance and lack of respect for the people.

  • limkopi

    piercing of face and body has long ago been banned on the Chinese medium or “tankee”
    i cant comment on this for the indian as a chinese
    actually come to think of it , its been passed down from centuries ago
    my question is who are we to put a stop to end this culture in singapore

    but the drums and painted face can and should easily pass off

  • Moe Gan Thai

    What violence ? even there is, our police can’t handle ?? every month take pay and scare violence, this type of job I also want

  • Maniam

    Ha ha, actually I want to vote for Shanmugam, the pAP candidate, but now I think twice, because this so called elite millionaire minister can’t even handle a simple, minor cultural issue, how to rule a nation then ? Better vote for a more caring opposition candidate who can fight for our rights.

  • NeutralGuy

    I am quite annoyed to hear that the government are putting guidelines on religion celebrations. If they are worried about violence then Christmas Parties, New Year Parties etc should be stopped.

    I am a Chinese and I have always wondered why Singapore does not set Thaipusam a holiday when Malaysia does. Singapore has a large Tamil community and majority are celebrating Thaipusam. In fact, I am amazed that though Thaipusam is a Hindu festival, in Singapore and Malaysia it is a multi-racial festival that even many Chinese carry kavadis and dance alongside the Indians.

  • hang perak

    I am really amazed at the decision of the govt. How a person practices his religion is him to decide so long it is within the framework of the law and without disturbing the other . I am a Chinese but personally feel this Hindu celebration adds wealth to our national culture.For years,If I chance to cross the procession I will always stop to appreciate the colorful displays and share their happiness .Without noise without pom without display what celebration?

    If such rules apply to the Hindu,then what about the ghost festivals and the Christian Christmas ,songs and dances should be mused too?

  • iBELIVEDallbelieves

    thaipusum devotees are not driven by FORCE nor anger to participate just liked the chinese taodist saikong…
    even the christian priests in europe whipped themselves
    so please let it be…

  • woken up

    Kudos to Ravi. Finally someone speaks up for the indian community. When my friend and I were discussing about this issue, we were taken aback by the new guidelines. Thaipusam is not taking place in a library. IT is on the road. The only residential place is the one in little India and race course road. All the years, the residents did not complain, but now they do? Oh come on stop that crap.

    As the authorities ever participated in Thaipusam, let alone walk behind the Kavadi??? If they did, they wont be making such measures.

    Like some of our readers said, wat about during the hungry ghost festival? So no more block parties for the residents by the resident committees I suppose.

    Are we willing to see Chinese operas during the 7th month in complete silence. Only mimes or charades will be conducted.

    Come on… be fair.

    Thaipusam only takes place once in a year. One day only. If there are too many complains, then declare the day off as a public holiday. If not tolerate it. Dont talk about religious tolerance, if the authority cant tolerate religion.

    “We the citizens of Singapore. Pledge ourselves as ONE UNITED people. REGARDLESS OF RACE, LANGUAGE OR RELIGION. TO BUILD A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY. BASED ON JUSTICE AND EQUALITY. SO AS TO ACHIVE HAPPINESS, PROSPERITY AND PROGRESS FOR OUR NATION!!!!”

  • Arix (@UK)

    People, before we start worshipping our self-proclaimed representative of the Hindu community, let us bear in mind that all the “restrictions” on Thaipusam cover THINGS NOT RELATED TO THAIPUSAM. For instance, unless Lord Subramaniam loves to watch Man U matches, there is no relevance whatsoever to adorning Kavadis or other elements of the procession with English football t-shirts; which would have absolutely nothing to do with how Thaipusam was celebrated in the last century and before.

    The same thing wrt music. Sure, Thasipusam songs are permitted, but what the guidelines seem to suggest is that if a devotee decides to sing Britney Spears or some other non-Hindu song, then such a “concert” would be banned. Which is 100% SENSIBLE. There is no reason why such music ought to be allowed for a RELIGIOUS HINDU service. RELIGIOUS CHANTS ARE NOT BANNED!!!

    Nothing in the HEB guidelines cover the public-holiday-status – or otherwise – of Thaipusam, and I don’t think that that is the remit of the HEB.

    THe Kavadi is not banned; rather there are sensible restrictions just like a drinking-age for alcohol. Ravi misrepresents the HEB by claiming that the HEB has banned the Kavadi.

  • Robox

    Singaporeans need to ask themselves this question: Why is that only Hindus and Muslims have such serious grievances against the statutory bodies – HEB and MUIS respectively – that are supposed to represent them?

    Why is that Chinese Buddhists and Chinese Christians don’t have similar grouses against the Singapore Buddhist Federation, the National Council of Churches in Singapore, or the Catholic Church in Singapore?

    There is an explanation for this: It is the PAP government’s unspoken policy of ‘community policing’ applied only towards Indians and Malays to get the two comunities in line with their longstanding policy of forced acculturation under ‘Confucianism”.

    That will explain most, if not all, of the HEB’s role in this Thaipusam debacle.

    I’ll see if this post goes through before I continue.

  • Bernard Chan

    I simply cannot believe this is happening to my Hindu friends in Singapore….all those I served my N.S. in the mid 1970s and now their own sons.

    I am very sorry to hear of such restrictions.

    When will PAP pass law to stop loud laughter and voices in public and loud screwing sounds and loud farts?

  • Robox

    I will now refer to these two reports by the ungazetted political associations, the Straits Times and Today:

    http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_624519.html

    http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC110115-0000233/Minister-clears-air-on-Thaipusam-rules

    In the opening line of the Straits Times’ propoganda piece, it is stated: “HOME Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam reassured Hindus on Friday that public order guidelines issued on next week’s Thaipusam procession are not new, and apply equally to all religious processions.”

    K Shanmugam seems to be as confused as he always is. (Or does he actually mean to intentionally sow confusion in the minds of Singaporeans?)

    The first point of contention here is his reference only to ‘religious processions’.

    The propoganda by Today re-iterates this lie: “The guidelines – which apply to “all religious processions, not just Thaipusam” – have been around for 38 years.”

    However, the fascists in the HEB who have claimed that their guidelines ‘mirror’ the police guidelines, the Public Order Act (POA), enacted less than two years ago and not 38 years ago as K Shanmugam, Minister of Law of all things, claims, and which the merrymakers at Thaipusam will be subjected to police brutality with.

    The POA was enacted to deal with ALL public disorder, even those acts – recorded music, face and body painting, religious music, etc. – that the PAP government that enacted the Act imagines to constitute public disorder.

    Why then does K Shanmugam make reference only to religious processions when the POA is meant to address, rightly or wrongly, ALL public disoreder?

    Here’s where the non-enforcement of the less-that-two-years-old POA at Chingay and NDP, where recorded music, face and body painting, etc, become pertinent.

  • Robox

    Next, with reference to the same two propoganda articles: Is it true as K Shanmugam claims, that ALL of these guidelines have been in place for 38 years?

    As one TR contributor, Old Citizen writes:

    [Quote]

    Old Guidelines!

    Tagging of Pal Kodums [Robox: "milk pots"]. Old Guideline?

    Nomination of representive for Kavidis bearers and imposition of $5,000/- for non-compliance. Old Guideline?

    Only thing old here is PAP’s & HEB’s Propagandas and Lies.

    [Endquote]

    Additionally, I might add that anyone that the police decides to brutalize will be charged under the POA which was only enacted in 2009, less than two years ago.

    Old guidelines?

    Or just new lies?

  • Robox

    A final matter arising from the two propoganda reports is another of K Shamugam’s false claims: ““The guidelines – which apply to “all religious processions, not just Thaipusam” – have been around for 38 years.”

    Here, the point of contention is ‘all religious processions’. (Which other religious processions are subjected to the POA, K Shanmugam?)

    Here he means to sow confusion by declaring that there is equal treatment under the law.

    But the law that he conveniently sidesteps is the Article 15 of the Constitution which gurantees the freedom of religion. Under Article 15, the PAP government is legally obliged to accomodate all aspects of Thaipusam distinct from any other religion. Why then is the dancing and merrymaking inherent to Thaipusam deemed by the HEB and the police guidelines to constitute crime.

    Crime is not defined as “anything I don’t like” even if you don’t like what you refer arbitrarily as rowdiness – rowdiness is crime ONLY if harm towrads others is caused – but strict considerations of mens rea and actus reus. Does dancing, face painting, recorded music, etc fit those legal criteria of crime?

  • Political Screw-MaN

    The PAP are smart to retrict all mean! They know their doom day is comming, The big Brother are comming out to the street.They act first.

  • zack

    Hates off Ravi. Atlast there is somebody like you to voice out for the minority.

  • pap out

    What is happening? Are we going backwards…to third world country. How come all these years the police or govt didn’t say anything but why now? Is what one of the opposition party said ‘there is some foreigner living in the Thaipusam procession route who may have complained, so to please the foreigner they banned this’ is true? Wow! then Foreigners are ruling Singapore.!!! Anyway if this law is not reversed, sure all singapore indians will be voting for the opposition in the next election!!!

  • Robox

    Activists for the HEB and the police have been fanning out in all directions in cyberspace as part of a disinformation campaign. Summarized, they claim that:

    1. The imposition of public laws like the POA at Thaipusam are a matter to be dealt with ONLY by Hindus, and ‘practising Hindus’ at that – whatever that means.m

    There is familiar ring in this claim.

    Does everyone still remember how the once New York University-bound Thio Li-ann lashed out at her liberal American liberal critics by calling them imperialists and neo-colonialists?

    Does everyone still remember how Lee Kuan Yew and Kishore Mahbubani went round all over the world lecturing Western governments critical of Singapore’s human rights record of the same?

    The activists for the HEB are doing the same: they are making the subtle suggestion that it is racist of non-Hindus if they are critical of the HEB’s draconian guidelines.

    All three wish to carry out their fascist agendas unimpeded by guilting their critics to silence them.

    This cannot be allowed to go unchallenged: the use of public laws against any group of Singaporeans is a matter for ALL Singaporeans as well as non-Singaporeans concerned about human rights violations. Otherwise, non-LGBTs will similarly not be allowed to comment on the imposition of S 377a on gay/bi men. And anti-death penalty activists would be barred from commenting on the death sentence since they are not on death row themselves.

    I will continue with the second extravagant claim that the activists for the HEB are making in the next post.

  • Robox

    The second extravagant claim that activists for the HEB have been peddling is that the HEB guidlines arein accordance with Hindu scriptures.

    To address that claim, I will refer to a seemingly unrelated matter.

    In Hindu mythological folklore, Sati was the name of a woman who was so distressed at the death of her husband that she threw herself on his funeral pyre.

    Along came a bright spark, much later after the writing of that story, and declared that good Hindu women could prove their loyalty to their husbands and act as Sati did; the practise of sati was born. (Unlike popular imagination, this was not a widespread or routine practise.)

    Most, if not all, Hindu practises, customs, and festivals began that way: with a passing reference in scripture, and later re-enacted.

    Thaipusam began that way as well.

    The question to ask about scriptural authority on the rules for Thaipusam as a PROCESSION is: How was it possible that the scriptures were explicit about the rules for Thaipusam as a procession when at the time of writing, Thaipusam wasn’t even conceived of as a procession?

  • Robox

    Arix, you are the only person who thinks that the kavadi is banned.

    winter, take your intolerance elswhere; I’m sure the HEB will have a job for you.

  • Arix (@UK)

    Robox,

    so what is the big fuss about?

    and IMHO, Sati has become abused in modern-day rural India. India is in the process of eliminating Sati.

    And to your earlier question, because the SBF chair, the NCC Chair and the Archbishop are not government-appointed representatives, unlike the heads of MUIS and HEB. And for Christians, also because no church – even a megachurch – ever holds an outdoor procession.

  • Robox

    Arix, you asked:

    “Robox, so what is the big fuss about?”

    If you still do not know after what we said are unconstitutional – and therefore illegal – then you definitely deserve to be declared an enemy of Singapore.

    It is exactly people like you, who share the philosophy of ‘illegal governace as legitimate’ and see nothing wrong in it who should be condemned as our enemies.

    But I am not surprised that it would come from someone like you, a known Christian fascist.

  • Robox

    While the PAP government accuses the SDP of ‘confrontationist politics’, they are guilty of the exact opposite: the politics of avoidance.

    (I suppose that issues of race are only important to the racist PAP if it is about the Chinese language.)

    The Thaipusam issue has been out in the open. They have to deal with it.

    I now want a statement from either Ayatollah K Shanmugam or the Council of Hindu Mullahs (HEB) to this effect:

    Now that the issue of the Council’s (HEB’s) guidelines are before the courts, are they going to continue to fool Singaporeans that those guidelines are enforcible this Thaipusam?

    When an issue is before the courts, it is in dispute and therefore there is no legal stand on it’s legitimacy under the law.

  • Kamala

    my only message to Robox- youre sick in your head.

  • winter

    @ robox

    yeah sick in the head.

  • angry_one

    I’m trying to figure out what motivated the PAP to put a ruling like this? The huge numbers of foreign workers who may join the procession and start a riot? The non-Hindu foreigners who complain about the noise? A last-ditch effort by LKY to prove he can make anyone do anything he wants?

  • kumar

    @winter

    ah i dun really have any to complain
    but winter are u telling the guy in the photo in the thaipusam pics to get a life
    if that is the case
    go and die u ignorant idiot who the hell are you to make fun of another religion wat he does in his fate is his prerogative
    an idiot like u might not have faith in god or have such traditions but we do so dun come and comment here when u have no respect for other cultures wat u some HEB stooge is it i dun give a damm bout the politics or the banning cos i jus go and pray no matter wat restrictions but seeing u make fun of my traditions makes me sick and pissed ppl like u exist

  • Robox

    Kamala and winter, please be more specific and pinpoint EXACTLY which part of what I have written reveals me to be ‘sick in the head’

    Would it perchance be all those parts that contain the truths – legal and otherwise – that make both of you so damn uncomfortable?

  • religion is stupid

    @ robox

    oh! you want to talk about what is legal ah? constitution ah?

    you know what is equal rights? means i cannot make noise, you also cannot make noise.

    my god is rave party god, can or not? every day must make noise in the street, hold up traffic, can or not? otherwise my rave god will not be happy.

    you know it is illegal to carry knife? why you are so ‘special’?

    please, you are asking for more rights, not equal rights.

    religious people are free to worship their god but not at the inconvenience of others and not against the law because this means that other people must see things your way. your god is special? do it in your own home and keep the noise down.

    so many gods to make happy…

  • Arix (@UK)

    Robox,

    Unlike you, I actually read the guidelines. I know what Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association is, and as far as the guidelines are concerned, I don’t see anything that violates any of these wrt to the Hindu community.

    The HEB provides funds for Hindu events; it is not obligated to endorse Man U fans, or Christina Aguliera. Banning these from Thaipusam does not at all constitute a breach of the Constitution.

    I have no sympathy in general for defamation suits, or for restriction of any religious procession, but this is one instance where Ravi has clearly plucked words out of context.

    In all of the “negative” guidelines, if you bother to read them properly, they include a proviso that goes “except for stuff related to Thaipusam”. So yes, loud music is banned, “except Hymns like … related to Thaipusam”.

    Visual representations involving banners and flags, likewise, are not prohibited, unless they are Michael Jackson or David Beckham Merchandise.

    The only perhaps slightly questionable element is the ban on body painting and piercings. But it is not questionable to the point which it can be considered unconstitutional. And I am guessing that “body painting” is being banned not because of the “painting”, but because the government – and other sectors of the population – are afraid that some people will choose to turn up JUST in body painting, and that is a violation of public decency.

    “amongst others” is very rich, because there is no “others” at all.

    I am sorry, but Ravi has much more of a case for preventing the gazetting of TOC than he has for alleging “discrimination” in the HEB guidelines.
    Ravi needs to get a life, seriously. People like him (and you) are why the opposition ain’t respected.

    Incidentally, at least Ravi is a Hindu. Since Thaipusam is a religious festival, nobody except Hindus have a right to comment on what is or on what is not appropriate for Thaipusam. Let the Hindus deal with Ravi how they see fit.

    And my two cents only…

    I am a Christian, and would not dare to presume to fully understand the nature of Thaipusam, even though I have at least some inkling of what a religion is like. On the other hand, you, who are an atheist, seem to think you are qualified to comment on everything.

    Honestly, atheists should poking their noses in religious affairs. It is highly disrespectful, to say the least.

  • Robox

    I’ve just read this one comment by editor Ganga appended to one of my unapproved comments; I think it is worth addressing. The comment goes:

    “Oi, Robox, why the angst against HEB? It’s just like any religious body lah – masquarading political animal!”

    The Council of Hindu mullahs (HEB) is NOT a relgious body. It is a staturory body and is therefore subject to the secularism that the PAP government only imposes on Muslims but wavers when it comes to Chiritian and Hindu fascists.

    As a body publicly funded by Hindus and non-Hindus alike, the Council is prohibited from interpreting scripture. That would be a violation of secularism

    At any rate the Council controls only 4 temples in Singapore; Hindus from other streams are NOT obliged to obey any of their government-funded edicts.

    The Council neither represents all of Hinduism nor owns Hinduism.

    Are they trying to compete with the Afghan Taliban when they make pretensions to it?

  • Arix (@UK)

    Robox,

    I am puzzled: what is this “secularism” that the government “imposes” on Muslims, but allows Christian and Hindu “fascists” to get away with? (Even your use of the term “fascists” is debatable…)

    Whether the Council can interpret scripture is not dependent on who funds it, but on what sort of people make up it. If the HEB is all composed of Hindus, then there is no reason why Hindus should be barred from interpreting their scripture, just like the NCC, the Catholic Church, and the Mosques are permitted to.

    I am sure one of your grouses against the “fascists” in the NCC must be that they refuse to rebuild Mosques as part of foreign aid.

    The Council may not represent all Hinduism, but then what matters is that it represents Hinduism for all or most of the Hindus in Singapore. And, to paraphrase, when in Singapore, you do what the Singaporeans do…

    Or perhaps you would love to re-instate the Caste system, so that Hindus can have the perfect equality of religion they can get in India?

  • Arix (@UK)

    religionisstupid,

    (1) Oh, I guess I should clarify: Everyone HAS the LEGAL right to comment, but not the MORAL right. Freedom of Speech is a LEGAL concept, not a MORAL concept.

    (2) Actually, God does heal amputees – some at least. My priest saw one such healing. I am not sure for HIV.

    Faith healing works – in some cases. However, it is true that there are many quack faith-healers around. Just because some faith-healers are quacks, doesn’t mean faith-healing itself is a quackery.

    (3) Hmm, and who were making the loudest noise in the AWARE Saga. Oh right: ATHEISTS.

    Also, before you comment/criticize, try and understand what you are criticizing first; at the very least do unto the religious what you want the religious to do unto you.

    Talking about it, I am in the UK and down here, Richard Dawkins and the National Secular Society often issue fatwas of their own. So well…

  • theonlinecitizen

    Please stick to the topic of discussion here. This is not a thread to bash or defend religion. If certain people persists in making derogatory remarks about other faiths, we will close down this thread.

  • Reena

    Kudos to Ravi, at last there’s someone out here voicing out for the minority… Which was long suppose to be done by some ministers like someone earlier said… If we would have to stop… Then the 7th month shows have to stop n the lions drums too…. Aren’t we suppose to be a multi racial country??? These has been ongoing for years n none had any similar uptight regulations prior to this… So why now??? The MGMT doesn’t represents hindus nor hinduism…. I wish Ravi all the best…….

  • kitty

    thank you ravi!
    such brave act.. should be the model for young citizens to follow suit.. instead been quietly suppressed in this “global city”

    im a chinese and i think the rules set are totally absurd. someone’s getting senile and the other is heaving a head too full of himself to think properly.

    human rights do need to be enforced in singapore… citizens are educated enuough to think and analyse, the Patriarch society should be abolished.

    sadly, there isnt any news and tomorrow’s thaipusam. i think it was a deliberate act to delay on it, and make some money out of thaipusam giving out fines and stuff…

  • popcorn

    Thaipusam is a very vocal and colourful religion, and attracts lots of tourists to watch and shoot pictures. As long as there is police to jaga the procession, why place restrictions on it. Maybe the Police is shorthanded on manpower, so something has to give way, they are too busy policing casino crimes in the two IRs.
    Now we know The Pledge we are taught to swear on is really junk.

  • http://www.google.com allinav

    I love Thaipusam, and always stop to watch if I happen to be close to the procession. To me, it’s the most interesting festival in Singapore; it’s really refreshing to see this rich tradition in modern Singapore. Without the drums and piercings, the festival just won’t be Thaipusam anymore.

    By the way, Arix:

    “Actually, God does heal amputees – some at least. My priest saw one such healing.”

    Surely you’re mean that your priest saw a paralysed person regain use of their limbs? Healing from paralysis and amputation are two very different things, you know! One happens all the time and is really no big deal, the other has never happened. If your priest really saw an amputee sprout a new leg/arm, why wasn’t it in the news? Why aren’t there before and after pictures all over the Internet?

  • Revathe

    Thank you Mr. Ravi. You have all our support from all our fellow singapore indians .. Thank you very much .. truly appreciate what you have done :)

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