MALAYASIA, June 24, 2013 (Malaysia Hindu Sangam Press Release): The Malaysia Hindu Sangam has been receiving numerous complaints from local Hindu temples relating to the problems these temples face in applying, renewing or adding the duration of the professional visit pass for their temple priests, musicians and sculptors to the Department of Immigration and Ministry of Home Affairs.
Based on the survey by Malaysia Hindu Sangam, there are a total of 2,300 Hindu temples in the country. Currently, we have 600 local and 250 foreign priests, serving in these temples. This means we have a shortage of about 1,500 priests in the country.
In addition to this shortage, the application for bringing in priests, musicians and sculptors is beset with many difficulties and hindrances. Each application to the Department of Immigration must be accompanied by a support letter from an Indian minister. These support letters were issued only for Hindu priests. For priests of other religions, they need to submit only support letters from their respective religious associations.
Hindu priests upon their arrival, have to undergo special a induction course conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources. This special course is held only for Hindu priests and priests from other religions do not have to attend this course.
At times, when the holding of this course is delayed, temples have to obtain a special pass for their temple priests. To apply for this, they have to obtain approval letters from an Indian minister and also from the Malaysia Hindu Sangam. Temples have to pay US$31.60 to the Department of Immigration every month to obtain this special pass pending the approval of their professional visit pass for their temple priests by Department of Immigration.
Though this matter, on numerous occasions, has been brought to the attention of our Indian ministers, but to date there has been no solutions to these problems. Therefore, Malaysia Hindu Sangam would like to urge our prime minister and the minister of home affairs to resolve these problems faced by the Hindu temples in this country as soon as possible.