CNY nothing to do with religion, foreign minister says after Malay party raises bogey in Puchong school decor
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah today reminded Malaysians that their cultural diversity is to be celebrated instead of letting it divide them.
The foreign minister took to Twitter in response to a Malay party official’s claim yesterday that a public school in Puchong, Selangor had gone overboard with decorations for the upcoming Chinese New Year, purportedly in an attempt to convert its Muslim students.
“Among Malaysia’s strengths is its people — diverse in race, culture and religion, living in peace and harmony. This needs to be strengthened in the spirit of peaceful coexistence.
“CNY has nothing to do with religion. We have celebrated together for decades. This tradition must continue,” Saifuddin tweeted this morning.
PUTRA vice-president and lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz has threatened to report a public school in Puchong recently over its supposedly ‘religious’ Chinese New Year decoration. — Picture via Twitter/BuzzeAzam
The cultural festival is a two-day public holiday in Malaysia where roughly 30 per cent of its population is ethnically Chinese. This year, Chinese New Year falls on January 25 and 26.
The Pakatan Harapan minister’s call to unity follows growing unease in multireligious, multi-ethnic Malaysia with the communal politicisation of various issues ranging from education to job opportunities that have dogged the country despite a change in government.
Yesterday, lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz who is also vice-president of the fledgling Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (PUTRA) threatened to file a police report against SMK Pusat Bandar Puchong 1 in Pusat Bandar Puchong for its “religious” Chinese New Year decoration.
Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
The lawyer claimed the decoration to be “unconstitutional”. He further claimed that Muslim parents had complained about the decoration, which they see as an attempt to propagate a non-Islam religion to students.
Khairul later claimed the school principal, Rohani Mohd Noor, promised in an email reply to take down all the Chinese New Year decorations.
Malay Mail has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of Khairul’s assertions with the school at the time of writing.
Saifuddin’s Cabinet colleagues echoed the foreign minister’s assertions with similar statements. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Gobind Singh Deo also echoed the need for Malaysians to respect one another’s traditions and opined that the school should not take down the decorations.
“It is common for decorations to be put up in celebration of a cultural event such as Chinese New Year. We are a multicultural society and we have been celebrating these events at a National level all these years.
“We need to respect each other and celebrate events like these together. I don’t see anything wrong with the decorations at all. They are not religious in nature and are not in celebration of any religious event.
“The concerns allegedly raised by PUTRA are therefore misplaced. I am of the view that the school should not have given in to the demands,” he posted on his Facebook page this morning.
Separately, Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Hannah Yeoh chimed in, urging parents and teachers to uphold the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect in their respective space.
“A school is a place to educate young ones about interaction with others, tolerance and mutual respect. Parents and teachers need to ensure that these lessons are consistently done at home and in schools — be it on pages of books, on the walls of schools or in their exam questions,’’ she said on her Facebook account.
Syed Saddiq chided those who had complained about the CNY decorations at the school yet expected to enjoy the benefits of the long holiday weekend. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman added that national schools are for all races and religion but chided those who had complained about the Chinese New Year decorations at the school yet expected to enjoy the benefits of the long holiday weekend.
“National schools are for all races and religions.
“Chinese New Year festivities are celebrated together as Malaysia is a country of all,’’ he tweeted.
“When it comes to Chinese New Year celebrations, [some] cheekily demand for a holiday,’’ Syed Saddiq jested in the same Twitter post.