Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail led a delegation of ministers, deputy ministers, and lawmakers today to visit SMK Bandar Puchong 1 this evening, following alleged complaints against its Chinese New Year decoration.
Those present included Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Communications Minister and Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, de facto religious minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, and Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Xavier Jeyakumar.
Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching also attended the visit, with the acting education minister yet to be appointed.
The ministers also took turns signing several Chinese lanterns that were sponsored by the Kinrara state assemblyman Ng Sze Han, who was also in attendance.
Earlier this week, pro-Malay Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) vice-president Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz threatened legal action against the school for supposed excessive Chinese New Year decorations, which he said had upset several Muslim parents.
The Chinese New Year decorations taken down by the school were put up again at about 3pm this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said the purpose of putting up decorations during a festive season is to allow the students to feel the festive atmosphere, and it is not against any law.
He said it is normal for schools to put up decorations during a festive season.
“We have never had any racial issue arising from festive decorations, such as the ketupat and tanglung.
“Moreover, CNY celebration is not related to any religion.”
Earlier, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the police had no right to advise the school to remove such decorations.
“I understand that the decorations were removed on the advice of police.
“Why are the CNY decorations being related to religion?
“I cannot accept such police action, to ask the school to bring them down,” he said.
His comments come after complaints by Muslim parents and threats by Putra alleging that the decorations are an attempt to propagate a religion to students.
Lim said there was previously no issue with schools putting up CNY decorations.
“CNY celebrations are not religious. It is just celebrating the new year.
“Even malls have CNY decorations, and there’s no issue.
“Don’t let this divide us by banning CNY decorations, especially when they are not related to religion.”
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo also hit out at Khairul.
“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.”
Gobind said Malaysians have been celebrating these events for years, and that the concerns raised by Putra were unfounded.
He also said the school should not have given in to the demands for the decorations to be taken down after it was reported that the principal had agreed to do so.
Khairul, who is also a lawyer, said Muslim parents had complained about the decorations.
“The complaints we’ve received show unease at the excessive CNY 2020 decorations in your school. Some parents say the school looks like a Chinese-owned market with religious elements on display (that are not Islamic).
“This is distressing for Muslim students and is also against Article 3(1) of the federal constitution,” he said in a letter sent to principal Rohani Mohd Nor and shared on his Twitter account.
Article 3(1) states that “Islam is the religion of the federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation”.
Khairul did not provide any proof of the complaints.
Other Pakatan Harapan leaders also spoke up in support of CNY décor, saying the government should not give in to the demands of extremists.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Ng Kor Ming also wrote on his Twitter that the school is the place to teach our children interaction with others, to build understanding of different culture and appreciate festive seasons celebrated by our Malaysian “brothers and sisters”.
He asserted, “The government must not give in to these extremists and bigots.”
Meanwhile, women, family and community development deputy minister Hannah Yeoh also agreed that the school should be 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 tweeted.
Foreign minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah tweeted today that Malaysia’s strength is its people – diverse in race, culture and religion, living in peace and harmony.
“CNY has nothing to do with religion. We have celebrated together for decades. This tradition must continue.”
Youth and Sports Miinster Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman said: “National schools belong to all ethnicities and religions. Chinese New Year is celebrated together because Malaysia belongs to all of us.”
Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said the threat by Putra is certainly uncalled for and unprecedented.
“Going by Putra’s twisted logic, all Chinese New Year decorations across the country would have to be taken down for purportedly being unconstitutional.
This is simply incomprehensible and downright illogical.”
Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim said Chinese tradition, especially from Confucianism and Buddhism teaches moderation (the middle ground). Malay culture also encourages moderation.
“In a multicultural society like ours, moderation is important to ensure that the rakyat of different ethnicities and faiths can live in harmony.
Today, extremists are spreading fear and irrational thinking among Malaysians.
Enough is enough. It’s time the government takes a firmer stance against extremists of all races.”