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Written Answer by Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on gazetting Thaipusam as a public holiday

Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Manpower whether the Government will consider to gazette Thaipusam as one of the public holidays in Singapore.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam:

There are currently 11 days of public holidays in Singapore. These public holidays were chosen in consultation with the major religious groups, and represent a careful balancing of the interests amongst the various groups in our society.

In the past, there have been requests to deem other significant days or festivals observed by various groups of Singaporeans as public holidays, such as Lao-Tzu’s Birthday for the Taoists, Thaipusam and the Hindu New Year for the Hindus, and Women’s Day.

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. Further, 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.