Kuala Lumpur, Apr 16: The Malaysian Cabinet has reportedly decided to approve and renew visas and permits for Hindu priests, musicians and artisans from India. The decision was taken last week after the issue was brought to the attention of the Cabinet, said the country's Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.
"The Cabinet agreed to allow and to extend the services, but for special categories only," the staronline.com quoted the minister as saying in a written statement. Following the decision, Dr Subramaniam, who is also the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) secretary-general, said he would meet with non-governmental organisations and Hindu bodies as soon as possible to discuss the categories as well as the guidelines to be established.
He said he will also have discussions with Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal on the implementation of the decision.
President Datuk A. Vaithilingam said they would wait for more details on the decision. "We have submitted a request that priests be allowed to stay for five years, while temple musicians remain for three years and six months for sculptors. We really hope to get a favourable reply from the Home Ministry," he added.
It has been reported that Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had appealed to the Government to lift the ban on the recruitment of priests from India for Hindu temples and the Sikh gurdwaras. The MIC president had said the temples and gurdwaras urgently needed about 500 and 300 priests respectively.