Avoiding a war of words, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today said left it to his counterpart in Kedah, Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, to say whatever he wants about Penang.
“If he feels it was necessary for him to make such a comment on Penang, then I guess it is okay.
“But if he feels he should not have made such a comment, then he should not have,” Chow said after a press conference where he announced the formation of a state GLC today.
Chow was commenting on the Kedah menteri besar’s remarks that “those who don’t want to live in harmony can move to Penang”. Sanusi had said that in an attack on Chow’s deputy, P Ramasamy, for allegedly meddling in the Kedah government’s demolition of an 80-year-old Hindu shrine in Alor Setar on July 9.
“The Kedah MB must resolve internal problems on his own and matters of peoples’ interest must be handled wisely and properly. It is up to him if he feels that way (about Penang),” Chow said when asked to comment.
Ramasamy, who was also at the press conference, said Sanusi’s comments were uncalled for and was not befitting a menteri besar.
“Is Sanusi saying that Penang is less civilised than Kedah? In other words, there is law and order in Kedah, but not so in Penang?
“Ironically, the state proclaiming to be upholders of law and order demolished a Hindu shrine at 1am.
“While Penang, which he thinks is uncivilised, has never demolished any place of worship in the past 12 years (under Pakatan Harapan),” he said.
Ramasamy also denied claims by Sanusi that he had “needled” in the affairs of Kedah by voicing out on behalf of the caretakers of the Sri Madurai Veeran shrine outside the Alor Setar railway station.
“I was in Alor Setar at the invitation of the shrine’s caretakers. Is Kedah owned by Sanusi? This is Malaysia, and I am a Malaysian and I can go anywhere I want.
“And this is a matter of human rights. Unless the honourable MB wants to ban me from entering the state.”
Ramasamy said since the new government took over in Kedah, there had been a flurry of reports of non-Muslim places of worship, especially Chinese and Hindu ones, being issued clear-out notices by the local authorities.
In Penang, illegal places of worship were handled well through proper state policies with regard to non-Muslim places of worship, he said, adding: “I ask for the goodwill of the Kedah MB to put an end to the clearing out of Buddhist and Hindu shrines in the state.”
On Sunday, Sanusi defended the demolition of the Hindu shrine near the rail station in Alor Setar, saying it was done by the book.
He had said the Kedah government had offered the shrine’s caretakers an alternative site, but they had refused the request due to what he called “needling” by third parties, especially by Ramasamy.
“They (shrine’s caretakers) promised me that they would move out. The city council was merely following the law. Now, they are praying to the tree (where the shrine once stood). They are causing disharmony in Kedah. Those who don’t want to live in harmony can move to Penang.
“Kedahans must follow the law. We do not want our state to be in a mess and in disorder. There are laws, we follow them. We want harmony in Kedah. Those who want to follow the law, stay here, but those who don’t want to, go to other states,” he had said.
The council had served an eviction notice for the demolition a few weeks earlier, saying the shrine was built “illegally” on road reserve land and was disrupting traffic flow. – FMT