A group of Hindu priests, musicians and sculptors from India have received the certificate of eligibility to work in Malaysia, after passing an induction programme to serve in 31 temples in Kuala Lumpur.
Twenty-two priests, 22 musicians and 19 sculptors underwent the programme devised by the Human Resources Ministry Wednesday at the India National Human Resources Institute in Kuala Lumpur, New Straits Times said.
Human Resources Minister S Subramaniam said the induction programme, a condition imposed by the Immigration Department, was to familiarise them with the workplace, local culture and laws.
"The induction course conducted by religious and labour experts from the Malaysian Hindu Sangam and Immigration Department was held in line with the cabinet decision last July allowing for the recruitment of Hindu priests, musicians and sculptors from India," he said.
The participants were briefed on the country's Hindu temple administration so that they would be able to work and communicate effectively with devotees and temple administrators.
In late 2007, the government froze the recruitment of priests from India.
Subramaniam brought up the issue in the cabinet following an outcry from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), temples and the Malaysian Hindu Sangam.
He said the cabinet also wanted Malaysian nationals to be trained as priests.
There is, however, a shortage of young Tamil Hindus with knowledge of scriptures. The salaries paid are also considered low.
A bulk of the ethnic Indian population numbering two million-plus comprises Tamil Hindus who came in Kuala Lumpur during the British era. It forms nearly eight percent of Malaysia's 28 million population.