Putrajaya (Malaysia), July 18 : The Malaysia Government will consider new applications from temples and gurdwaras for priests, musicians and artisans from next month.
Human Resources Minister Dr S. Subramaniam, who discussed the matter with Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, said that the visas and permits for these foreigners would be valid for a maximum period of three years and based on a set of strict guidelines.
"Initially, 150 temples and Sikh gurdwaras throughout the country will be involved in the exercise. The Government will study the needs and requirements of other temples and gurdwaras from time to time," Dr Subramaniam said.
He added that more Malaysians would be trained to reduce dependency on foreigners, the Star reported.
In May, Hindu Endowment Board chief A. Thanashekaran said that the Government had refused to approve the extension of permits and rejected new applications for foreign priests and temple musicians from India, causing existing visas to be extended on a month-to-month basis at ringgit 50 a month.
This resulted in temples being unable to conduct proper religious ceremonies and daily prayers and forcing temple committees to incur extra expenditure.