I READ with much concern your report “Ramasamy says temple broke the law with forbidden chariot procession”.According to the report, Nattukotai Chettiar Temple had proceeded with the annual Thaipusam silver chariot procession which Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy said violated the law. According to Ramasamy, the procession had been prohibited by the Penang government.With due respect, it does appear the procession had violated the law, but not that it was against the state government’s prohibition. It is simply because Section 9 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within Infected Local Areas) (Movement Control) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 prohibits a person to participate or be involved in a procession, in any way.In addition, Section 10 of the regulations prohibits a person to gather or be involved in any gathering in any premises for religious purposes. Any gathering for religious purposes at any mosque or place of worship or for purposes of a funeral ceremony is subject to directions issued by the director-general of health.The regulations has been in force since January 22.The country may be in a state of emergency, but existing laws remain in force. This is reinforced by Section 17 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, which states that for so long as the emergency is in force, the powers given under the Ordinance “shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, the powers given by or under any other written law for the time being in force.”The regulations is a written law for the time being in force.If the procession had proceeded as reported, then person or persons who had participated or had been involved in the procession have committed an offence under the regulations, which is punishable with a fine not exceeding RM1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both.What is of greater concern and most disturbing is the allegation that Human Resource Minister M. Saravanan had written the temple a support letter, which, according to Ramasamy, had emboldened the temple to proceed with the procession.The state of emergency is aimed at giving the government more powers to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not a military coup and curfew will not be enforced. The civilian government will continue to function as usual. So were said by the prime minister.Existing laws remain in force. So the ordinance stipulates.So why the procession? – January 28, 2021.* Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight.
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