GEORGE TOWN, Jan 23 ― The state government here has not banned people and events from using the word “Penang”, it said today to counter news reports that such a prohibition was in effect.
Responding to articles by MCA-owned newspaper The Star asserting that the state has barred the use of the word in such instances as “Penang hokkien mee” and “Penang carnival”, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the portrayal was patently false.
“Such a portrayal is both dishonest and ridiculous,” he said.
He pointed out that the annual Penang Starwalk has been held yearly without any interference and with full state support since 2008, even though the event is not approved by the administration.
“I regret that The Star refuses to print what I said and continues to lie by reporting that all events that just use the word ‘Penang’ must be approved by the state government,” he said.
He reiterated that no official approval is needed unless there exists the likelihood that the public would construe state sanction when none existed.
“Confusion can arise when the word ‘Penang’ alone is used as in “Penang Run” especially when this event is held on Thaipusam day and the Hindu community wrongly blamed the state government for organising it and not respecting this religious occasion,” he said.
He clarified that the use of the word “Penang” as a standalone in events is necessary to avoid any abuse of the word that may be used to smear the state government.
“For events like this ‘Penang Run’, which is used without the state government permission, the state or local councils will not give any co-operation or relevant approvals,”
“There is nothing the state government can do if the organisers like those in ‘Penang Run’ insist on using the word ‘Penang’ alone, but they have to assume full responsibility for the event,” he said.
The state government sought to distance itself from the “Penang Run” event that has attracted criticisms from the Hindu community.
Lim said criticism over approvals for the use of the word “Penang” was an attempt to divert attention from the unhappiness of Hindus over “Penang Run” organised by Penang Tanjung Social Club and Penang Forward Sports Club.
Organising committee member and Penang Forward Sports Club chairman Lim Choo Hooi has denied that the event had a political agenda or any political link to any parties or government departments.
He defended the committee’s decision to hold it on Thaipusam as a way to attract more runners from other states as it is also a public holiday and the participants from other states could also join in the Thaipusam festivities after the run.
A total of 1,500 participants have signed up for the sporting event and Choo Hooi said there are more than 50 ethnic Indians who are also participating.