Back in 2012, Finance Minister made the following statement about Thaipusam becoming a public holiday. He said that Thaipusam would not be gazetted as a public holiday because it would “raise business costs and affect Singapore’s economic competitiveness”.

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Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday said that the Hindu festival Thaipusam will not be gazetted as a public holiday.

The Minister was replying Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh’s question if the government would do so.

In the written statement, Mr Tharman said: “There is a long-accepted, common understanding with regards to the number and configuration of our public holidays, and it would be sensible to maintain this.”

He said that the existing public holidays, which were chosen in consultation with major religious groups, “represent a careful balancing of interests amongst the various groups in Singapore’s society”.

Minister Tharman, who is also Finance Minister, revealed there have been previous requests to deem other significant days or festivals observed by various groups of Singaporeans as public holidays including Lao-Tzu’s Birthday for the Taoists, the Hindu New Year for the Hindus and Women’s Day.

He noted that an increase in the number of public holidays will raise business costs and affect Singapore’s economic competitiveness.

“This was a major consideration when the current 11 public holidays were first decided on, and remains relevant today,” he said.

The Thaipusam ceremony is celebrated on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai which falls in either January or February.

In Singapore, Hindus start the ceremony in the early hours of the morning by walking from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple along Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road.

Devotees either carry milk pots or wooden kavadis while they walk the 4.5km stretch.

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