In a few more days Chinese Malaysians will be returning to their hometowns in droves. It is this time of year again when family members will gather to enjoy the traditional reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. Shopping malls throughout Malaysia are already adorned with beautiful red decorations while joyous Chinese New Year songs can also be heard everywhere. Meanwhile lion dances can be seen in the major shopping centers much to the delight of shoppers particularly children. Another thing children look forward to receiving is ang pow, those little red packets filled with money.
This year it is the year of the dog. Yet interestingly enough shopping malls in Malaysia had avoided using the cute little creatures in their decorations for fear of offending their Malay Muslim compatriots. It was rather considerate of the shopping malls to do so. Unfortunately it was depicted by foreign media as some form of self-censorship by these businesses. To be certain the government, namely the religious department had never issued any directive restricting the use of dog images in the decoration. In fact, JAKIM’s director general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha had issued a statement emphasizing that according to the Islamic concept of co-existence as well as Malaysia’s practice of moderate Islam, using images of dogs for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations is something that must be respected to maintain harmony among all races. Luckily the absence of the little furry creatures has nor dampened the overall celebration for the Chinese community.
Malaysians are a resilient bunch. We try our best to understand one another. Yes, we are of different ethnicities and faiths but that has always been our strength rather than our weakness. Markedly major celebrations such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali are equally enjoyed by the various ethnic groups eager to visit friends at open houses and enjoy the food. It’s just a Malaysian thing!
To all our Chinese readers, we at Malaysian Access would like to wish you Gong Xi Fa Cai. May you have a joyous and healthy prosperous new year!